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Four Palestinians killed after Israeli army opens fire on Gaza border

21 April 2018

On Friday, at least four Palestinians were killed and 726 wounded, including 150 by gunshot, as Israeli troops fired live rounds and tear gas to disperse mass rallies at the border, Gaza officials said.

Earlier Friday, Israeli military aircraft had dropped leaflets urging Palestinians to stay away from the fence and warning that they endanger their lives if they follow directives of Gaza's Hamas rulers, who have taken the lead in organizing the protests.Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth reported that Israeli army planes had dropped flyers over the Gaza Strip warning would-be protesters to refrain from approaching or attempting to damage the border fence, according to Anadolu Agency (AA). The three others murdered by Israeli snipers were identified as Ahmed Rashad, 24, Ahmed Abu Aqil, 25, and Saad Abdul Majid Abdul-Aal Abu Taha, 29. At least 156 of the wounded were struck down by live ammunition.

Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) has treated hundreds of people injured by Israeli gunfire this month. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled or were forced out of their homes during the 1948 war that led to the creation of Israel.

The demonstrators are calling for the right for Palestinians and their descendants to return to what is now Israel.

Israel has ruled out the demand, arguing that the return of Palestinians to what is now Israel would outnumber its Jewish majority.

The unemployment rate for Gazans stands at roughly 46 percent, with 65 percent of those under 30 jobless.

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"If Hamas decided not to participate, the number of protesters would be really low, " he said.

Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian UN ambassador, said in a letter to the UN Security Council late Friday that Israeli forces continue demonstrating the "cruelty of their occupation machine, responding to the calls of unarmed civilians for freedom and justice with brutal and lethal force". The numbers could not be verified by Israel.

Liberman dismissed those gunned down inside Gaza as "hired activists". "But the fear is that this will turn from a peaceful protest into a violent one".

The six-week protest is set to end on May 15th, the 70th anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba, or "catastrophe", which left hundreds of thousands of Palestinians as refugees.

The IDF has issued warnings against the settler violence-which it regularly facilitates and assists-based on the concern that it will provoke mass upheavals in the occupied West Bank at the same time that Israeli troops are deployed to violently suppress the Gaza protests.

Israel and Egypt have imposed travel and trade restrictions on the territory since Hamas took power in 2007.

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He said the Palestinians will not accept an investigation announced by Israel into its military actions in Gaza because "it can not be credible". Both Palestinians killed were shot east of Jabaliya in the north of the Gaza Strip, the health ministry said.

"You are strongly advised not to participate in acts of violence against Israeli army troops or Israeli citizens", the flyers read, according to the newspaper. "The bullet penetrates the body and explodes inside, damaging multiple organs-not just the targeted area", he added. It says some of those hurt were overcome by tear gas.

It has accused Hamas of using the protests as a cover for carrying out attacks. "This tragic incident must be investigated", UN Middle East peace envoy Nickolay Mladenov wrote.

The US State Department, however, has steadfastly refused to criticize Israel's bloodletting.

The Associated Press contributed to the report.

All Palestinian factions in Gaza have supported the protests, including Hamas, the militant group that rules the 140-square-mile territory.

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Closer to the border, protesters were more hardened.

Four Palestinians killed after Israeli army opens fire on Gaza border