A Gaza farmer was killed and a second man was wounded by an Israeli tank shell on Friday, a Gaza health ministry spokesman said, hours before planned protests began by Palestinians along the border with Israel to mark “Land Day”.
An Israeli military spokesman confirmed the incident. “Overnight two suspects approached the security fence and began operating suspiciously and the tank fired towards them,” the spokesman said.
Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are planning to begin a six-week tent city protest to demand Palestinian refugees be allowed to return to what is now Israel. They have erected dozens of tents at five locations along the border.
The Gaza health ministry spokesman said the farmer was killed and another was wounded near the town of Khan Younis. Residents there said he was gathering crops to sell later.
“Omar Samour, 27, was martyred and another citizen was wounded as a result of (Israeli) targeting of farmers east of Qarara village,” the health ministry said.
Israel’s spokesman said Israeli troops had also fired towards two other men at another location along the Gaza border when they approached the fence trying to “interfere with security infrastructure” but he did not elaborate.
One of the two was hit, he said. Gaza sources initially had no details.
The death came as Palestinians moved towards the border to protest against Israel’s refusal to allow Palestinians the right of return to pre-1948 homes inside Israel.
Photographs published by Reuters showed injuries in early clashes on Friday.
Israel’s military chief said on Wednesday that more than 100 snipers had been deployed on the Gaza border ahead of the planned mass demonstration near the frontier.
Heavy earth-moving vehicles have built up dirt mounds on the Israeli side of the border and barbed wire has been placed as an additional obstacle against any mass attempt to breach the border into Israeli territory.
Organisers from a number of factions, including Hamas, which dominates Gaza, hope thousands will answer their call to flock to tent cities in five locations along the border to call for a right of return of Palestinian refugees to what is now Israel.
The 30 March date for the start of the protest marks “Land Day” commemorating the six Palestinian citizens of Israel who were killed by Israeli security forces during demonstrations in 1976 over government land confiscations in northern Israel.
It is due to end on 15 May, the day Palestinians call the “Nakba” or “catastrophe”, marking the forced displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in the war that led to the creation of Israel in 1948.[Middle East Eye]