Child among two shot dead by Israeli forces during Gaza protests
Israeli forces have shot dead two Palestinians, including a child, and injured over a hundred more following the use of live fire and tear gas on the border with Gaza.
The Gaza health ministry named the victims as Mahmoud Abu Samaan, 24, and Fares Hafez al-Sersawy, aged just 12. Both were killed by bullets to the chest, east of Gaza city.
Friday marks the 28th consecutive week of protests at the border area by Gaza's residents who demand an end to the Israeli blockade of the 365 km² enclave.
According to the health ministry spokesman, Israeli forces targeted an ambulance with tear gas.
A medical centre near the Bureij camp was targeted by sniper fire. He put the number of wounded at 124 people, including a journalist and a paramedic who were both shot.
According to a report released on Thursday by Defense for Children International - Palestine, Israeli forces have killed at least 44 children in the past 40 weeks.
Fares Hafez al-Sersawy's death means four Palestinian boys aged 11 - 15, have been killed by Israeli forces since last Friday.
Snipers, infantry and armoured vehicles were moved to the Gaza border, as fears mounted that there could be a bloodbath at the protests.
Israel was also set deploy its Iron Dome anti-rocket system to the border region, saying the reinforcements were intended to "thwart terrorism and prevent penetration into Israel along the Gaza border fence".
Demonstrations began in March for the right of refugees in Gaza to return their homes lost since the 1948 creation of Israel, with at least 193 Palestinians killed by Israeli forces who have used live fire on the unarmed protesters.
Israel has accused Palestinians of endangering lives and destroying farmland through the use of incendiary devices and pinned blame on Hamas, the ruling authority in Gaza, for the deaths, which include dozens of children.
Human rights groups and the UN have condemned Israel's overwhelming use of force to disperse the demonstrations.
The leader of Hamas' political wing, Yahya Sinwar, told an Israeli newspaper this week that although an "explosion is inevitable" he believed "a new war [with Israel] is not in anybody's interest", and called for an end to the siege on Gaza.
"We cannot prevail in a confrontation against a nuclear power... And certainly [another war] is not in our interest. War gains nothing."
Gaza has been under siege by Israel and Egypt, leading to acute shortages of basic good with aid agencies warning the Palestinian enclave is on the verge of collapse.
Agencies contributed to this story.