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Protesters say Israel fired on Gaza demonstration

March 17, 2010 1:17 P.M. (Updated: March 18, 2010 4:20 P.M.)
Gaza – Ma'an – Israeli forces opened fire during a demonstration in the northern Gaza Strip on Wednesday afternoon, protesters said.

An Israeli military spokeswoman confirmed that soldiers opened fire, but said the reports were still being investigated.

Abu Al-Walid Az-Zaq, member of the Popular Committee Against the Buffer Zone, said the demonstration was intended to reassert control over an Israeli "no-go area" near Beit Hanoun.

The closure separates farmers and residents from their lands and property, and runs counter to claims that the military evacuated all of Gaza during its 2005 redeployment.

Az-Zaq said the protest began in the Ash-Shujaiyeh neighborhood and ended at the military zone, where shots were fired at participants. The demonstration was themed "Jerusalem and the Land," he said, adding that a similar protest would take place Thursday in Khan Younis.

Palestinians and international solidarity activists have increasingly joined the challenge to the no-go zone. Last Tuesday and Wednesday, protesters breached the area near Erez and in Ash-Shujaiyeh. There were no reports that the military opened fire during last week's demonstrations.

In February, the army said soldiers fired warning shots to disperse a "suspicious gathering."

A few weeks beforehand, Israeli aircraft dropped warning flyers over Gaza reiterating that Palestinians were banned from approaching the zones, which are inside Gaza but along the periphery.
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