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Israeli army says didn't deliberately kill Palestinian nurse in Gaza

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - The Israeli military said on Tuesday initial findings from an investigation into the killing of a Palestinian nurse during protests on the Gaza border showed that she was not shot deliberately.

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Gaza health officials and witnesses said Israeli forces shot dead 21-year-old Razan al-Najar, a volunteer medic, as she ran toward the border fence, east of the south Gaza town of Khan Younis, in a bid to reach a casualty last Friday.

The Israeli military said Palestinian militants had attacked its troops along the border with gunfire and a grenade.

“An initial examination regarding the incident ... found that a small number of bullets were fired ... and that no shots were deliberately or directly aimed towards her,” part of a brief statement issued by the Israeli army said.

The investigation was continuing, the statement added, and findings will be examined by senior commanders and then passed to military prosecutors for consideration.

Thousands attended al-Najar’s funeral in Gaza on Saturday, including some people she had treated when they were wounded at previous border protests.

Gaza medics say the Israeli army has killed 120 Palestinians during the weekly Friday protests launched on March 30 in the Gaza Strip, an enclave controlled by the Islamist Hamas group and long subject to grinding Israeli and Egyptian embargoes.

Israel says many protest participants were Hamas members and militants trying to breach the border and launch attacks.

The Palestinians say most of the dead and the thousands wounded were unarmed civilians against whom Israel was using excessive force. Israel has drawn international condemnation for its use of deadly force during the mass demonstrations.

The protests have seen thousands gather to demand the right of return to their families’ lost homes or lands, now in Israel.

Israel rules that out, concerned it would lose its Jewish majority. Two-thirds of the two million Palestinians in Gaza are refugees or their descendants.

Writing by Ori Lewis; Editing by Janet Lawrence