The Israeli military is investigating the shooting death of a Palestinian journalist who was allegedly killed by Israeli fire Sunday while covering protests at the Gaza border.
Nearly 20,000 Palestinians have rallied on the Gaza-Israel border in the last week to protest what they see as Israeli occupation of their homeland. While many have been peaceful, protesters have burned tires, thrown rocks and Molotov cocktails, and even allegedly attempted to plant IEDs. Yasser Murtaja, a journalist for a Gaza news agency was killed Sunday despite wearing a vest identifying him as a member of the press, triggering Israel to open an investigation into his death, the BBC reported.
“The IDF [Israeli Defense Forces] does not intentionally fire on journalists,” Israel said in a statement. “The circumstances in which journalists were hit, allegedly by IDF fire, are unknown to us and are being examined.”
The Israeli military deployed more than 100 special forces snipers to the Gaza border in anticipation of the Palestinian “Land Day” protests that began Friday and are expected to continue until May 15. So far, the Hamas-controlled Gaza Health Ministry has reported at least 28 deaths with hundreds of injuries, mostly from tear gas inhalation. The IDF has confirmed at least one of those deaths.
“The IDF estimates about 17,000 Palestinians in five locations along the fence, burning tires, and throwing Molotov cocktails and stones at the fence and at IDF troops who are responding with riot dispersal measures and shooting at a number of key instigators,” the military said in a statement.
The IDF maintains that Hamas, the terror organization in control of Gaza, is wholly responsible for any deaths in the coming weeks. Hamas Gaza head Yahya Sinwar also made a rare public visit to the border fence Friday morning. The Israeli Prime Minister’s Office claimed that Hamas’ plan is to bring women and children to the fence and bait the IDF into harming them.
This is what the #GreatReturnMarch is all about:Hamas terrorists send thousands of Palestinians, some armed, to illegally cross the Gaza border fence & infiltrate Israeli territory in order to attack Israelis.
Every country has a right to protect its territory & people. So do we pic.twitter.com/BuY57dN03s
— Ofir Gendelman (@ofirgendelman) March 30, 2018
Palestinians have planned six weeks of sustained protesting to end on May 15, dubbing the event the Great March of Return. Israel first took over the land in 1948 and has fought to maintain its claim for the past 70 years.
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