One adult has been killed and 19 others injured after Israeli soldiers opened fire at the Gaza-Israel border. The incident happened east of the village of Khuzaa in southern Gaza.
The deceased was identified as 21-year-old Abdelhadi Qdeih, Palestinian emergency services told AFP.
The clash erupted after a group of Palestinian farmers wandered into the disputed 300-meter buffer zone along the border.
The farmers reportedly may have entered the buffer zone to check on their crops after hearing a news report claiming that travel restrictions had been lifted for the area.
“They were not rioting. They were really trying to see if it was possible for farmers to return to their land. Now if we accept that Israel had to shoot 500 meters into the Palestinian territory, injuring 19 and killing 1, then really there can not be a ceasefire realistically for the people of Palestine, because the farmers can’t return to work,” journalist Sarah Lauren Booth told RT from Gaza.
In a separate, contradictory account, the group approached the border fence to salvage scrap from an Israeli army jeep damaged during the conflict, AP quoted a Gaza health official as saying.
“Under the ceasefire, most Gazans [thought] that the no-go military buffer zone which Israel had imposed on the Palestinian side of the border had been raised and that the farmers in that area…would now be able to farm there. So Palestinians went to what they thought was now again Palestinian territory to look at an Israeli Jeep…and one Palestinian was killed,” Gaza-based journalist Harry Fear told RT.
Israel claimed that a group of about 300 people approached the fence and that some attempted to break through.
The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) initially said only that it had fired "warning shots" after seeing a group walking towards the fence, but later stated that soldiers shot at the group’s legs after the warnings were ignored.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said the group would discuss the incident with Egypt, which brokered the recent ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.
This is the first incident since Israeli troops and Hamas fighters laid down arms two days ago, following eight days of heated conflict.
“Looking at the situation politically on both sides of the border, I don’t think the ceasefire will break, even though this man has been killed. It’s not in the interest in the state of Israel. It’s not in the interest of Hamas. And I think this is going to be one of the gravest tragedies of these last couple of weeks,” Fear said.
The IDF bombardment of Gaza and the retaliatory shelling of Israel by Hamas mortar and rockets both ended on Wednesday night. Hostilities in the region broke out when the IDF assassinated Hamas military leader Ahmed Jabari on November 14. A reported 163 Palestinians and six Israelis died in the conflict.