GAZA (Reuters) – Israeli troops shot dead a Palestinian woman during Gaza border protests on Friday, medics said, and the military said it opened fire in response to grenade and rock attacks and breaches of the frontier.
Ashraf Al-Qidra, spokesman for the Gaza health ministry, said 25 other Palestinians were wounded by Israeli gunfire during the mass demonstration, a weekly event along the border since March 30.
An Israeli military spokesman said troops had faced off with around 13,000 Palestinians, some of whom threw rocks and grenades across the fenced-off border. On three occasions, Palestinians crossed into Israel before doubling back, he said.
Gaza’s health ministry, run by the Islamist militant group Hamas, says more than 220 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli troops in the protests, billed as pressing for an end to a grinding Israeli-led blockade of the enclave.
The 44-year-old woman killed on Friday was shot in the head, Gaza medics said.
Palestinians also want a right of return to lands from which their families fled or were forced to flee in the 1948 war of Israel’s founding.
Israel says the protests are organised by Hamas to distract from its governance problems and provide cover for cross-border attacks. Hamas denies this.
On Friday, two senior Egyptian security officials left the territory after meeting with officials from Hamas and other factions. Participants said they discussed Cairo-led efforts to reconcile Hamas with the rival Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, and reduce border tensions.
A Palestinian official said Egypt’s message was that Israel sought no escalation.
“Factions here are also committed to calm as long as the Israeli occupation abides by it,” the official told Reuters.
In the Israeli-occupied West Bank, where Abbas has a measure of control, the army said troops shot a Palestinian who attempted to carry out a stabbing attack near a Jewish settlement. The Palestinian was detained and taken for medical treatment.