09 April, 2018
Fifty-one Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces in the West Bank and Gaza so far this year, including Iyad Zabarka, a 30-year-old Palestinian citizen of Israel who was shot dead by soldiers in the West Bank while fleeing the scene after he reportedly crashed a stolen vehicle during a chase with a private security company on Tuesday.
In central Gaza east of Deir al-Balah, two Palestinians died after they were shot in the head by soldiers: Ibrahim Ziyad Salameh al-Ar, 20, and Sudqi Talib Muhammad Abu Ateiweh, 45.
Speaking at U.N. headquarters in New York, Palestinian U.N. Ambassador Riyad Mansour put the death toll for Friday's protest at nine; the discrepancy between that figure and the death toll provided by the Gaza Health Ministry could not immediately be explained.
Palestinians torched tires near Gaza's border with Israel on Friday, sending huge plumes of black smoke into the air and drawing tear gas and live fire from Israeli soldiers deployed on the other side of the border fence.
Murtaja was covering a mass demonstration along the Gaza border, and was shot despite wearing a blue flak jacket with the words "PRESS", clearly indicating that he was a journalist and not a protestor. A spokeswoman for the Israeli army had no immediate comment on the statement.
The demonstrators have dubbed it "The Great March of Return" of refugees and their descendants to purported ancestral homes now in Israel.
At least 21 Palestinians were killed at last week's March 30 protests, or succumbed to their wounds in the following days, after Israeli forces fired live ammunition, tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets at protesting Palestinians.
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Israel argues that Hamas could have ended the suffering of Gaza's 2 million people by disarming and renouncing violence.
UK's Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn condemned Israel's killing of at least 27 Palestinians on the Gaza border as an "outrage" and attacked Western "silence" about the deaths.
As last Friday's protest got under way, six Israeli high school students who were on a study visit to Nahal Oz, clambered up an abandoned guard tower to peer into Gaza. Israel's army said it "does not intentionally target journalists".
Palestinian men burn tires during a protest in the West Bank city of Ramallah, April 6, 2018. "We call on the Israeli government to comply with UN Security Council Resolution 2222 on the protection of journalists (adopted in 2015), demand an urgent independent investigation and the sentencing of the perpetrators of this crime against freedom of the press", said Deloire.
His death, along with the other recent casualties, seemed likely to draw renewed criticism from rights groups that have branded Israel's open-fire orders on the border as unlawful, after Israel's defense minister warned that those approaching the fence were risking their lives. "He just fell on the ground and said, 'I've been shot, I've been shot'".
According to the Palestinian health ministry, about 491 people were injured during the protests.
Israeli military officials responded by saying they have never deliberately opened fire on reporters.