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Israeli forces fire at Gaza farmers, injure young man

Dec. 21, 2013 9:51 A.M. (Updated: Dec. 22, 2013 5:46 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces opened fire early Saturday at Palestinian farmers in their fields in the southern Gaza Strip, injuring a young man, medics told Ma'an.

Palestinian medical sources told Ma'an that 22-year-old Ismail Najjar was injured when Israeli troops surprised farmers east of Khan Younis refugee camp with gunshots.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said Palestinian "terrorists" tried to conceal an explosive devise near the border area with Israel.

"Soldiers called on the suspects to stop," she said. After firing shots into the air, she said the soldiers fired at a Palestinian's "lower extremities and identified a hit."

The spokeswoman quoted Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner as saying the army was "required to defend the civilians of the state of Israel."

Locals reported heavy deployment of Israeli military vehicles near the border area Friday after an explosive device thrown from the Gaza Strip hit a military patrol east of Khan Younis. Two young Palestinian men were injured by Israeli fire.

Separately, a young man was shot dead and three others were injured Friday in the northern Gaza Strip.

Israeli forces frequently shoot at farmers and other civilians inside the Gaza Strip if they approach large swathes of land near the border that the Israeli military has deemed off-limits to Palestinians.

The "security buffer zone" extends between 500 meters and 1500 meters into the Strip, effectively turning local farms into no-go zones.
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