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Israel troops open fire on Gaza protesters, 2 injured

Jan. 17, 2014 6:38 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 21, 2014 11:41 A.M.)
GAZA CITY (AFP) -- The Israeli army fired live rounds and tear gas at protesters near the border fence in the Gaza Strip on Friday, wounding two Palestinians, medics and an AFP correspondent said.

Troops fired at some 300 demonstrators who were protesting against Israel's destruction of farmland for its 300-meter buffer zone, the correspondent said.

Two protesters were moderately wounded and taken to hospital, Gaza's health ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra told AFP.

Israel's army was "unaware of the incident," a spokeswoman said.

The demonstrators were marching near the border fence in support of Palestinian farmers, whose citrus trees they said had been uprooted to make way for the Israeli-controlled buffer zone that runs along the border.

"Israel destroyed most of our citrus trees ... (and) still prevents us from importing or exporting any products," said a statement from protest organizers the Gaza Youth Coalition.

The statement deplored "daily Israeli attacks" against farmers near the border.

Israel allows "civilian access on foot to areas up to 100 meters from the perimeter fence for agricultural purposes only, and vehicular access to a distance of 300 meters," according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Israeli soldiers often fire at Palestinians who walk near border areas.

Israeli air strikes wounded a woman and four children near Gaza City overnight Wednesday to Thursday, medical sources said, with Israel confirming it had struck in retaliation for rocket fire.
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