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Palestinian man dies after being shot by Israeli army

Several protesters have been killed and hundreds wounded by Israeli army fire from across the border fence since protests began at the border with Israel in late March.

A 25-year-old Palestinian man has died after being critically wounded by Israeli army fire near Gaza’s border with Israel.

The Gaza health ministry said the man had been shot in the head.

It did not provide details about the circumstances of Friday’s shooting, which came as Palestinians were gathering for a fourth weekly mass protest on the border.

The Israeli military said it is looking into the incident.

Before Friday, 28 Palestinian protesters had been killed and hundreds wounded by Israeli army fire from across the border fence since the protests began in late March.

The man was shot east of the border town of Jebaliya.

Protests are already under way in one area, where several dozen Palestinians moved toward the border fence. Some threw stones and others flew kites with burning rags dangling from their tails as part of a new tactic aimed at setting fields on the Israeli side on fire. Israeli forces fired tear gas to push them back.

Earlier, Israeli military aircraft had dropped leaflets urging Palestinians to stay away from the fence and warning that they are endangering their lives if they follow the directives of Gaza’s Hamas rulers, who have taken the lead in organising the protests.

The military said it is defending Israel’s border and that its troops, including snipers, only target “instigators”. It has also accused Hamas of using mass protests as a cover for attacks.

Israel has faced international criticism for its response to the mass marches. Rights groups have branded the open-fire orders as unlawful, saying they effectively permit soldiers to use potentially lethal force against unarmed protesters.

White House envoy Jason Greenblatt, a member of President Donald Trump’s Middle East team, said on social media that Palestinians in Gaza have a “right to protest their dire humanitarian circumstances”.

Organisers “should focus on that message, not stoke the potential for more violence with firebombs and flaming kites, and must keep a safe distance from the border,” said Mr Greenblatt, adding that “the cost of these demonstrations is too high in loss of life and injuries”.

The protests are to continue at least until May 15, the anniversary of Israel’s 1948 creation. Palestinians mark the day as their “nakba”, or catastrophe, when hundreds of thousands fled or were driven from their homes in the Middle East war over Israel’s founding.

Hamas said the protests are aimed at breaking a crippling border blockade that was imposed by Israel and Egypt after the Islamic militant group overran the territory in 2007, a year after winning Palestinian parliament elections.

The marches also press for the return of Palestinian refugees and their descendants to what is now Israel.

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