By Agence France-Presse
Israeli shelling killed a Palestinian farmer in Gaza early on Friday, the enclave’s health ministry said, just hours before the launch of mass protests along the border.
A second Palestinian was wounded by the tank fire near Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip, a ministry spokesman said.
The ministry identified the dead man as Omar Samour, 27. Witnesses said he was working his land near the border when the shells hit.
An Israeli army spokesman said: “Two suspects approached the security fence along the southern Gaza Strip and began operating suspiciously.
“In response an (Israeli) tank fired towards them,” he said, adding that the army was aware of reports of a death.
The shelling came just hours before the opening of large protest camps near the border, which have prompted the Israeli army to deploy reinforcements, including more than 100 special forces snipers, for fear of mass attempts to break through the security fence.
Hundreds of people, including women and children, are expected to march to the camps in an event dubbed “The Great March of Return,” which has the backing of Gaza’s Islamist rulers Hamas.
The protest camps are expected to remain in place for more than six weeks in the runup to the inauguration of the new US embassy in Jerusalem around May 14.
US President Donald Trump’s recognition of the disputed city as Israel’s capital in December has infuriated Palestinians, who claim its annexed eastern sector as the capital of their future state.
Hamas has fought three wars with Israel since 2008 and Israeli chief of staff Lieutenant General Gadi Eisenkot has warned the Gaza protests pose the most serious risk of renewed conflict since he took up his post in 2015.