10 killed in Gaza as face-off continues

NAHAL OZ (Israel) • With tear gas and burning tyres fouling the air and gunfire periodically ringing out from one direction, Palestinian demonstrators and Israeli soldiers faced off last week along the fence hemming in the Gaza Strip for the second straight week.

Ten Palestinians were killed last Friday, including two teenagers, and 1,000 were wounded, Palestinian officials said.

The demonstrations were smaller than those last week, when 21 people were killed.

But the death toll was significant, despite a pledge by Hamas, the militant group that controls Gaza, that the protest would be peaceful and by Israel that it had learned from last week and would use live fire judiciously.

A Palestinian journalist died yesterday after being wounded by Israeli fire last Friday while covering the deadly protests. Health officials said a live bullet had penetrated the side of Mr Yaser Murtaja, 30, a cameraman for Palestinian Ain Media, and he succumbed to his wounds in hospital. An Israeli military spokesman had no immediate comment.

The protests are aimed at Israel's blockade of Gaza, which began after Hamas seized control in 2007. Billed as a six-week "March of Return", the demonstrations are to culminate on May 15 with Nakba Day, which commemorates the flight and expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians during Israel's 1948 war for independence.

By last Friday, it was clear that they had already achieved one Palestinian aim: shifting the focus of international attention away from the struggle between Hamas and the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority - and on to the stark image of Gaza as a prison with Israel as its jailer.

NYTIMES, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 08, 2018, with the headline '10 killed in Gaza as face-off continues'. Print Edition | Subscribe