Israeli fire kills 2 Palestinian teens: Gaza officials

Israeli forces fire a foul smelling substance at Palestinian demonstrators during a protest near the Israel-Gaza border fence, in the southern Gaza Strip February 8, 2019. (Reuters)
Updated 08 February 2019
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Israeli fire kills 2 Palestinian teens: Gaza officials

  • Hassan Shalabi, 14, was shot in the chest at one protest site in southern Gaza Strip
  • Hamza Ishtiwi, 18, was killed at a protest in east Gaza City

GAZA CITY: Israeli troops shot and killed two Palestinian teenagers on Friday as thousands held demonstrations along the perimeter fence separating Gaza and Israel.
Hassan Shalabi, 14, was shot in the chest at one protest site in southern Gaza Strip and Hamza Ishtiwi, 18, was killed at a protest in east Gaza City, the Health Ministry said. He was hit with a bullet in the neck.
The ministry added that 17 other protesters were wounded.
There has been no immediate comment from the Israeli military.
Friday's protests drew thousands of Palestinians who gathered at five locations along the fence, throwing rocks toward the Israeli forces stationed behind the frontier. The Israeli troops responded with barrages of tear gas and live fire.
The protest campaign, launched by Gaza's Hamas rulers last March, has become a weekly event. They have seen the death of about 190 Palestinians and an Israeli soldier. The violence sometimes escalated into brief rounds of cross-border exchanges of rockets and airstrikes.
The militant Hamas group demands an end to the Israeli-Egyptian blockade imposed on the territory since 2007.
Egypt has since eased Palestinian movement through its border and Israel allowed Qatar to send financial aid to Gaza, but Hamas says this is insufficient.
Israel accuses Hamas of exploiting the protests as a cover to carry out attacks against its soldiers. Earlier this week, Israel began reinforcing its fence, erecting a galvanized steel barrier six meters (20 feet) high that will run the length of Gaza's perimeter.


Gaza border protests provide artist with inspiration, and raw materials

Updated 11 min 4 sec ago
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Gaza border protests provide artist with inspiration, and raw materials

  • Diorama artist Majdi Abu Taqeya spends hours creating three-dimensional miniature replicas of the protest scenes
  • Some neighbours who had been wounded gifted the artist bullets extracted from their bodies

GAZA: One year on from the start of Gaza's border protests, the weekly clashes with Israeli soldiers have become part of the texture of life in the Palestinian enclave, providing inspiration and even raw materials for local artists.

Diorama artist Majdi Abu Taqeya spends hours creating three-dimensional miniature replicas of the protest scenes, with figures carved from remnants of Israeli ammunition collected from the landscape along the frontier.

Wool and cotton are turned into the white and black smoke that swirls over the five protest camps that have been set up along the fortified frontier since the protests began on March 30, 2018.

Elsewhere on Abu Taqeya's wooden boards, Palestinian protesters, ambulances, Israeli troops and tanks and even the wire fence itself are all created in miniature. He uses empty shells of bullets, tear gas canisters and sometimes shrapnel of Israeli missiles.

A bullet triggered the idea, the artist said. At the first day of the protests, Abu Taqeya's youngest brother was shot in his leg and doctors took out the bullet, which he then brought home.

"I turned it into a small statue of a soldier and I gave it to him," he told Reuters.

"It was then when I got the idea to start recycling the remnants of the occupation," said Abu Taqeya, a 38-year-old retired naval policeman.

Gaza health authorities said some 200 people have been killed by Israeli fire since Palestinians launched the protests a year ago. They are demanding the right to return to land from which their ancestors fled or were expelled during fighting that accompanied Israel’s founding in 1948.

An Israeli soldier was shot dead by a Palestinian sniper along the frontier.

Israel says it uses lethal force to defend the frontier from militants trying to destroy its border fence and infiltrate under cover of the protests. On Monday, UN war crimes investigators urged Israel to rein in its troops at the border.

In Nusseirat refugee camp, where Abu Taqeya lives, some neighbours who had been wounded gifted the artist bullets extracted from their bodies.

"This bullet was taken from a girl's body, I turned it into a bullet with a butterfly on the top," said Abu Taqeya.

On Thursday, organizers of the protests called for mass rallies on March 30 to mark the anniversary, raising concerns of possible heavy casualty toll. Abu Taqeya urged demonstrators to steer clear of the fence.

"We must not give the occupation any pretext to open fire. These protests must be peaceful," he said, using a Palestinian term for Israel.

Israel pulled its soldiers and settlers out of Gaza in 2005. Citing security concerns, it still maintains tight control of the Hamas-run territory's borders.