Saturday, November 24, 2012

Shoot out on Gaza border

From The Washington Post Saturday, November 24, by and Ernesto Londoño:
 KHAN YOUNIS, Gaza Strip — Israeli troops fatally shot a Palestinian man and wounded at least 13 others Friday morning on the Gaza side of the enclave’s border with Israel, and each side accused the other of violating a cease-fire that took effect Wednesday night.
The shooting was the first flare-up of violence since a truce reached late Wednesday ended eight days of Israeli bombardment of Gaza and Palestinian rocket attacks against Israel — fighting that drove the two sides to the brink of all-out war.
Palestinian witnesses and human rights officials said the episode illustrated the ambiguities of the deal, which called for an examination of the safeguards along a fenced 300-meter-wide buffer zone that Israel enforces on the Gaza side of the border, as well as negotiations on ending Israel’s blockade of the territory.
...Hamas, along with the masked fighters of other Gaza militant groups, held boisterous victory rallies across the Gaza Strip on Thursday, the day after the Egypt-brokered cease-fire with Israel was announced.
Amid parades of flags and political bombast, each of the strip’s militant factions hailed what they called a triumph for the Palestinian resistance and a new era for Palestinian unity.
But the separate public appearances by each militant group — rather than one unified rally — raised questions about the sturdiness of the cease-fire.
Anwar Abdel Hadi Qdeih, 20, was killed when Israeli forces on the border opened fire on a few dozen mostly young men as they approached the first of two fences Friday morning, according to hospital officials and witnesses in the southern Gaza town of Khan Younis.
The Israeli military said hundreds of Palestinians had attempted to breach the border fence in several places Friday, prompting Israeli soldiers to shoot at them.
...Capt. Eytan Buchman, an Israeli military spokesman, said at least 300 Palestinians “demonstrated and tried to cross the border at a number of places” along the southern frontier between the Gaza Strip and Israel.
He said Israeli soldiers initially fired “warning shots” in the air in an attempt to deter the Palestinians.
“When they continued their attempts to cross, security forces followed standard procedure and after exhausting other options fired towards their lower bodies,” he said.
“Anwar was trying to put a Hamas flag on the fence,” Omar Qdeih, a relative of the young man who was killed, told Reuters news agency. “The army fired three times into the air,” Qdeih said, then shot his relative in the head after he shouted a slogan in support of a Hamas militant leader who was killed in an Israeli airstrike last week.
...Buchman said Israel considered the attempted breach a violation of the cease-fire deal that Hamas and Israel reached Wednesday but did not say whether the military would take further action.
...“Hamas hasn’t decided to respond to the Israeli breaching of the agreement, but we hope that such violations won’t be committed again,” Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said in a statement e-mailed to reporters. He said Hamas reported the incident to Egypt, which was instrumental in arranging the truce.
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