Saturday, December 21, 2013

Thousands attend funeral of Gaza man killed by Israeli forces

Published Saturday 21/12/2013 (updated) 23/12/2013 16:31
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Thousands of Palestinians gathered in northern Gaza Saturday for the funeral of a man who was shot dead by Israeli forces the day before.

Various Palestinian political factions were present at the funeral of Odeh Jihad Hamad in Beit Hanoun, and some of the factions threatened to retaliate against Israel for killing the 29-year-old.

An Islamic Jihad leader urged all Palestinian factions to respond boldly to the "ongoing Israeli assaults" against Palestinians in Gaza.

Khalid al-Batsh said in a statement: "The Israeli occupation is responsible the escalation of killings in Gaza and we have to confront these violations."

Hamad's brother told Ma'an Saturday that Hamad was a kilometer away from the border when Israeli soldiers shot him in the head. He said Israeli forces did not allow ambulances to the scene for an hour and a half after the shooting.

The brother added that he himself was shot in the hand.

Hamad's family said he was struggling financially and looking for a job before he was shot.

An Israeli army statement said that "Palestinians caused damage to the northern security fence" and "fired a mortar shell" into Israel Friday, adding that they "rioted and hurled rocks at soldiers in the northern Gaza Strip, and neared the fence in an attempt to enter Israel."

Soldiers responded by shooting one of them to death and hitting several others with live bullets, the statement said.

In another incident Friday, two Palestinians were shot and injured east of Khan Younis, spokesman for the Gaza ministry of health Ashraf al-Qidra said. They were taken to the European hospital south of Khan Younis with moderate injuries, he added.

Israeli forces also shot and injured two Palestinian men east of Jabaliya in the northern Gaza Strip earlier on Friday.

One of them, 23-year-old Mohammad Ayoub, was shot near the eastern cemetery and transferred to Kamal Odwan hospital, medical officials said.

The other injured Palestinian was not immediately identified.

On Saturday Palestinian medical sources told Ma'an that 22-year-old Ismail Najjar was injured near Khan Younis when Israeli troops surprised farmers east of the refugee camp with gunshots.

An Israeli army spokeswoman after the shooting quoted Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner as saying the army was "required to defend the civilians of the state of Israel."

She said Najjar was a "terrorist" who tried to lay an explosive device near the border with Israel.

The Gaza Strip has been under a severe economic blockade imposed by the State of Israel since 2006.

Israeli forces frequently shoot at farmers and other civilians inside the Gaza Strip if they approach large swathes of land near the border that the Israeli military has deemed off-limits to Palestinians.

The "security buffer zone" extends between 500 meters and 1500 meters into the Strip, effectively turning local farms into no-go zones.