Israeli forces fire at protests in Gaza
Israel’s military on Saturday fired live rounds into the air at protesters in Gaza, after at least five Palestinians were killed and at least 18 wounded in clashes with Israeli troops in the enclave.
The army said the shells came from the coastal enclave and struck the southern village of Beit Hanoun in the southern Gaza Strip, which is under Israeli military control.
The Israeli military said it was investigating the incident, in which the IDF said four Palestinians were injured, but did not provide details.
The incident came amid ongoing violence between Israeli troops and Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip.
In a statement on Saturday, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement, the biggest armed group in the region, condemned the incident.
It called for the immediate arrest of all those involved, including members of the military.
Earlier, two Palestinians were shot dead and another wounded in the same village, the military said, without providing further details.
In the past week, Israel has carried out an unprecedented crackdown on Palestinians in Gaza in the face of mounting public outrage over Israel’s ongoing blockade of the enclave, the most populous in the Middle East.
A total of 16 Palestinians have been killed since Israel launched its campaign on Friday, according to Israeli and Palestinian figures.
The violence has been widely condemned by international rights groups.
In recent weeks, Israel’s bombardment has targeted schools and homes of Gaza’s 1.8 million people, including hospitals and schools, as well as civilian areas.
The UN has called for an end to the assault, and urged an end of the blockade.
Israel’s military said in a statement that its operations were aimed at preventing attacks on civilians and attacking terrorists.
In Gaza, Israel said it targeted militants and weapons and the group that fired the shells was responsible for firing them, the statement said.
Israel has targeted militant tunnels dug under the border fence.
The latest violence follows a series of deadly attacks by Palestinians on Israelis in recent weeks.
A week ago, a Palestinian rammed a car into a bus in the Israeli-controlled Gush Etzion region, killing an Israeli, and two days earlier, two Palestinian men were killed by Israeli forces in the West Bank village of Duma.
Israel said the attacks were intended to “target Israeli security forces and civilians, and kill as many as possible.”
On Thursday, Israeli soldiers fired live ammunition at Palestinian demonstrators in the eastern Gaza Strip who had gathered in front of a mosque in the town of Sderot.
Two protesters were lightly wounded in their attacks, the army said.
In response to the latest incident, the head of the Palestine Liberation Organization, Salah al-Qadhi, said that Israel’s attacks on the Gaza strip were a violation of international law.
The United States condemned the shelling and called for restraint in Gaza and elsewhere.
“This is the most extreme escalation of violence that Israel has seen in decades,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.
“I call on the international community to intervene to stop the violence and ensure the safe return of all Palestinians.”