Two Palestinians shot dead by Israeli troops in border protests

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Israeli troops shot dead two Palestinians during Friday protests at the Gaza-Israel border, the health ministry in Gaza said.

It said in a statement that one of those killed was a 14-year-old boy shot in the head during border confrontations east of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip.

Earlier the ministry reported the killing of Ghazi Abu Mustafa 43, and said he was shot by Israeli soldiers, also in the head, near the frontier fence, east of the southern town of Khan Yunis.

The Israeli military did not comment directly on the deaths but said about 7,000 Palestinian “rioters” threw rocks and rolled burning tyres at soldiers, and at the fence itself, at several locations along the border.

“Troops are responding with riot dispersal means and firing in accordance with the rules of engagement,” an English-language statement said, without elaborating.

There has been violence between the Israeli army and Palestinian protesters in the Gaza Strip since late March in which at least 156 Palestinians have been killed.

Hamas has pledged revenge after Israeli air and artillery strikes on the coastal enclave killed a number of its members in recent weeks.

Israel and Hamas have fought three wars since 2008.

A week ago a Palestinian gunman shot and killed an Israeli soldier at the border, sparking a fierce wave of Israeli bombing that ratcheted up fears of another war.

A degree of calm was restored until Wednesday when Israel said its troops came under fire again, with one soldier wounded.

It hit back with artillery fire which killed three Palestinians at a Hamas military base, near the border, east of Gaza City.

The al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, warned in response Wednesday that “the enemy shall pay a high price in blood for the crime which it commits daily against the rights of our people and our fighters”.

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