Shelling kills Palestinian in Gaza ahead of border protest

A Palestinian farmer has been killed by Israeli artillery fire in Gaza, Palestinian officials say, hours before a major protest by Palestinians along the border is due to start.

The strike happened near the town of Khan Yunis, in southern Gaza.

The Israeli military said a tank had fired at two suspects after suspicious activity near a security fence.

Palestinians have pitched tents on the border for a six-week protest dubbed the Great March of Return.

Hamas, the militant group which dominates the Gaza Strip, has accused Israel of trying to intimidate Palestinians by killing the farmer and by urging them not to participate in the protests.

The Israeli foreign ministry has said the protest is a “deliberate attempt to provoke a confrontation with Israel” and that “responsibility for any clashes lies solely with Hamas and other participating Palestinian organisations”.

Palestinian health officials named the dead man as 27-year-old Omar Samour and said a second man had been injured.

Witnesses say the two men were hit by tank fire while collecting parsley in a field, BBC Gaza producer Rushdi Abualouf reports.

Palestinians have erected five main camp areas along the Israel border for the protest, from Erez in the north to Rafah near the Egyptian border in the south.

The Israeli military oversees a no-go zone along the Gaza border, citing security concerns.

The Great March of Return protests are starting on Friday, as 30 March marks Land Day, which commemorates the killing of six protesters by Israeli security forces during demonstrations over land confiscation in 1976.

The protest is scheduled to end on 15 May, which Palestinians call Nakba (catastrophe) and which marks the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians during the conflict surrounding the creation of Israel in 1948.

Source: BBC

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