Palestinians say one killed as Israeli troops fire on Gaza protest

GAZA (Reuters) - Israeli forces opened fire during a demonstration in the southern Gaza Strip on Wednesday, killing a Palestinian youth, the Palestinian health ministry said.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said troops came under attack on the border fence in the southern Gaza Strip, stones and firebombs were thrown at them and they responded with “riot dispersal means”. Live rounds were fired according to “open-fire regulations”, she said.

Ashraf Al-Qidra, a spokesman for Gaza’s health ministry, said 15-year-old Moamen Ibrahim Abu Eyada was shot dead by Israeli soldiers east of the town of Rafah, which lies at the southern end of the Gaza Strip and borders Egypt.

The border between Gaza and Israel has been the scene of weekly Palestinian demonstrations since March 30 and protests have recently taken place late at night, as was the case on Wednesday.

The Israeli military said earlier there had been several incidents along the Gaza-Israel border on Wednesday “with the participation of hundreds of rioters” who rolled burning tires and hurled firebombs and rocks at soldiers. It said there were no Israeli casualties.

At least 182 Palestinians have been killed in the protests, according to Palestinian health officials.

The Israeli army says it is defending its border against rioting protesters who have sought to breach the fence and enter Israel.

Israel withdrew its troops and settlers from Gaza in 2005 but maintains tight control of its land and sea borders and has fought three wars there in the past decade against Hamas Islamist militants who control the territory.

With Egypt, Israel has imposed a blockade that the World Bank says has brought Gaza’s economy to crisis, leaving its 2 million people with limited access to healthcare, clean water and electricity.

Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians have been stalled since 2014.

Reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi, Writing by Ori Lewis; Editing by James Dalgleish and Paul Tait