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Two teenagers shot dead by Israeli army

GAZA, Palestine: Two teenagers were killed by Israeli gunfire during a protest along the Gaza-Israel border fence.

Palestinian health authorities said 14-year-old Khaled al-Ribie and 17-year-old Ali al-Ashqar received bullets in the chest by Israeli forces on Friday while thousands of Palestinians protested near border fencing.

The demonstrations were attended by over 5,000 Palestinians to protest Israeli occupation.

Gaza officials say at least 76 people were wounded as the Israeli army opened indiscriminate fire on the protesters.

Ashraf al-Qidra, spokesperson for the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza, told media that 45 people were specifically targeted by the military during gunfire.

“Most of the victims suffered upper-body wounds which shows an intent to kill,” he said.

However, Israeli army quotes a higher number of participants of up to 6,200 people gathered along the border with Israel during protests.

A Palestinian who attends protests regularly told media that most people take part because they and their families were feeling an intense toll from the economic blockade and also from the closure of the border crossing between Gaza and Egypt.

Weekly protests are mainly organized by Hamas, which governs the Gaza strip since 2006.

Other Palestinian groups also organize the marches through ‘The March for the Right of Return Commission’ started in early 2018.

Senior Hamas official Ghazi Hamad said Israel has a policy of targeting Palestinian protesters, but the level of its action against them is often related to the political situation between Israel and Hamas.

He pointed out that Friday’s assassinations and higher number of injuries indicated the lack of political understanding between the two adversaries.

“When there is no political agreement or understandings between Hamas and Israel, as it is the case now, the borders get tense and Israel often escalates its lethal reaction,” he explained.

The rallies had become less intense in recent months after mediators brokered an unofficial ceasefire earlier this year.

Out of two million Palestinians, 70% of the population comprises of registered refugees, who were expelled from their homes by Zionist militia before the illegal occupation of Palestine by Israelis in 1948.