By the Associated Press
A Palestinian teen died Saturday of wounds sustained by Israeli gunfire at a border protest, Gaza’s Health Ministry said, as thousands attended the funeral of an 11-year-old killed in that demonstration.
The ministry said Moumin al-Hams, 17, was shot in the chest at the protest on Friday along the fence that separates Gaza and Israel.
The teenager appears to have been a regular participant in the weekly marches that Hamas, the Islamic militant group that rules Gaza, has been leading and promoting since March.
Images shared on social media by his friends and relatives show him venturing toward the fence, setting tires ablaze and pushing them toward Israeli forces.
Funerals were held Saturday for Majdi al-Satari, 11, whose age was previously announced as 14, and for Ghazi Abu Mustafa, 43, killed at Friday’s rally.
Gaza’s Health Ministry first reported on Friday that al-Satari was 14. On Saturday it said his age was 12. A relative provided a different date of birth and The Associated Press matched the new data with al-Mezan, a Gaza-based rights group, and confirmed that he was 11.
Alaa Abdel-Fattah said he witnessed the boy’s death on Friday. He said a group of protesters were trying to cut razor wire about 50 yards away from the actual fence. He said the child was watching from about 100 meters away. “There were two gunshots from a sniper. One hit one of those cutting the wire in the leg and the other gunshot hit the boy in his head,” he said.
Women gathered under the corrugated zinc roofing of al-Satari’s house for the funeral.
Majdi’s mother, wearing a black niqab, sat on a mattress. “I don’t know what he did to them (the Israeli soldiers),” she said as she burst in tears. She added that his family tried to prevent him from going to the protests and on one occasion tried to lock him indoors. “It’s his fate,” she sighed.
“He is a child. He had no bullets or weapons,” Um Ramzi al-Satari, the deceased’s grandmother, said. “He was standing like all children watching. They shot him from afar. Isn’t he a child? Why are they targeting children?”
In a nearby town, mourners held a funeral for the 43-year-old killed in the same protest.
Hassan Najjar told the AP on Friday that he had witnessed that shooting.
He said soldiers shot at a group of Palestinians who rushed to the border and a bullet hit the man sitting about 250 meters away. He said the man had sustained leg wounds at a previous protest and was still using crutches.
Hamas has led border protests aimed in part at drawing attention to the Israeli-Egyptian blockade imposed after Hamas took control of Gaza in 2007.
The demonstrations have been fueled in large part by pervasive despair caused by the blockade which has caused widespread economic hardship.
Over 140 Palestinians, mostly unarmed, have been killed since the protests began.
Israel says it is defending its border and accuses Hamas, a group sworn to its destruction, of using the protests as cover for attempts to breach the border fence and attack civilians and soldiers.
Last week a Palestinian sniper killed an Israeli soldier. Another soldier was wounded by Palestinian fire on Wednesday.