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Israeli forces kill 15-year-old Palestinian in Gaza after shooting him in head during protests

Sept. 9, 2016 8:04 P.M. (Updated: Oct. 5, 2016 2:26 P.M.)
A Palestinian protester is evacuated after being injured by a tear gas canister during clashes with Israeli security forces east of Gaza City on October 10, 2015. (AFP/Mahmud Hams)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- An 15-year-old Palestinian in Gaza was killed on Friday after a soldier reportedly shot the youth in the head during protests east of al-Bureij refugee camp near the border between the besieged enclave and Israel. The Israeli army, however, has denied any involvement in the deadly shooting.

Gaza Ministry of Health spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra identified the youth as Abd al-Rahman Ahmad al-Dabbagh, and confirmed that the 15-year-old had been shot in the head. He was rushed to the Al-Aqsa hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival. Initial reports had said that the boy was 18 years old.

Meanwhile, another Palestinian was injured with live fire during clashes near Nahal Oz east of al-Shujaiyya in the Gaza Strip.

Witnesses told Ma'an that dozens of youths had gathered in several areas near the border with Israel, as clashes erupted with Israeli forces who opened live fire at the protesters.

An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma'an that a "violent riot erupted" near the border with Gaza, as "dozens of rioters breached the buffer zone" -- a unilaterally declared area in Gaza's territory near the separation barrier. According to the spokesperson "in an attempt to prevent an escalation of violence," Israeli forces used tear gas in order to disperse the "riot."

However, the spokesperson denied that Israeli forces had used live fire on the protesters, saying that although the Israeli army had heard reports of an 15-year-old being shot in the head, it was "not caused by the (Israeli army)."

At least 28 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed by Israeli forces since a wave of violence first erupted across the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel last October, according to Ma'an documentation. The majority of the slain Palestinians were shot dead during protests along the security barrier near Israel.

During the height of the protests, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip crowded near the border with Israel nearly every Friday to show solidarity with what Palestinians in Gaza have termed the “Jerusalem Intifada” taking place in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.

More than 1,500 Gazans have been injured by Israeli forces since the start of 2015, the vast majority during clashes that broke out with the Israeli military during protests since October, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Palestinian youths still routinely engage in protests near the border with Israel to demand an end to the near decade-long siege on the small coastal enclave, with Israeli forces regularly opening live fire on the demonstrators, resulting in scores of Palestinians being wounded.

The Israeli-imposed blockade has plunged the Gaza Strip’s more than 1.8 million Palestinians into poverty. The destruction from three Israeli offensives over the past six years and slow reconstruction due to the blockade led the UN in September to warn that Gaza could be “uninhabitable” by 2020.
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