Israeli troops kill four Palestinians in Gaza.
GAZA/ KHAN AL-AHMAR, Palestine/BERLIN: Israeli soldiers killed four Palestinians and wounded hundreds more taking part Friday in weekly protests at the Gaza Strip border, Palestinian medical officials said.
The Israeli military said it used force necessary to prevent border breaches by some 12,000 Palestinians who massed at several points near the fence, some of them hurling rocks and firebombs at troops under cover of smoke from burning tires.
Friday's dead, one of them a boy whom medics said appeared to be around 14-years-old, brought to 177 the number of Palestinians killed since the sometimes violent protests were launched on March 30 to press several demands against Israel.
The period has also seen occasional shelling exchanges between Hamas and Israel. An Israeli soldier was killed by a Gaza sniper and Israel has lost tracts of forest and farmland to cross-border incendiary attacks.
Israel's tactics against the protests have drawn foreign condemnation, though Washington has backed its ally in accusing Hamas of staging the mass-mobilization to distract from Gaza's poverty and governance problems and to provide cover for armed Palestinian border incursions.
The Israeli military said that, twice this week, its patrols discovered and dismantled bombs that had been planted for use against them at the fence. Early Friday, several Palestinians crawled to the fence to throw a pipe bomb at troops, who fired back, the military said. There was no word of casualties. The protesters want rights to lands Palestinians lost during the 1948 war, as well as the easing of a crippling blockade that Israel, with the help of neighboring Egypt, has placed on Gaza to isolate Hamas and deny it weaponry.
A Palestinian official meanwhile accused the U.S. administration of pursuing "irresponsible" policies after President Donald Trump's Mideast adviser defended punitive measures against the Palestinians.
Senior Trump adviser Jared Kushner told The New York Times this week that he believes aid cuts and the closure of the PLO mission in Washington stripped away "false realities" in the Middle East and did not harm chances of advancing an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal. Abbas halted contacts with the Trump administration in December, after the U.S. recognized contested Jerusalem as Israel's capital. Kushner did not explain how he could promote a peace deal without Palestinian participation.
Abbas spokesman Nabil Abu Rudaineh said that Kushner's statement indicates he is "unaware of the reality of the conflict," in Jerusalem.
Germany's Foreign Ministry said the U.S. decision to shut down the Palestinians' de facto embassy in Washington could complicate trying to get Palestinians and Israelis back to the table to talk about a two-state solution.
Spokeswoman Maria Adebahr told reporters Friday that the decision was a bilateral issue, but the Foreign Ministry fears it could complicate "the resumption of talks for a two-state solution."
In the West Bank Friday, scuffles broke out between Israeli soldiers and dozens of pro-Palestinian activists at a village slated for demolition in the occupied West Bank. An Israeli bulldozer sought to close off a route to the Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar by dumping rocks and earth on it, sparking a protest that led to small clashes. Three people were arrested, a police spokesman said.
Activists said among them was a French law professor, Frank Romano, but the police did not confirm his arrest.
The village of roughly 200 people is at risk of being demolished at any time, despite fierce criticism from key European nations.
On Sept. 5, Israel's supreme court upheld an order to raze the village on grounds that it was built without the proper permits.
It is extremely rare for Palestinians to be given Israeli permits to build in Area C of the West Bank, where Khan al-Ahmar is situated.
The village is located in a strategic spot near Israeli settlements and along a road leading to the Dead Sea.
There have been warnings that continued settlement construction in the area could eventually divide the West Bank in two and cut it off from Jerusalem, dealing a death blow to any remaining hopes of a two-state solution.
Copyright [c] 2018, The Daily Star. All rights reserved. Provided by SyndiGate Media Inc. ( Syndigate.info ).
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|Publication:||The Daily Star (Beirut, Lebanon)|
|Date:||Sep 15, 2018|
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