Gaza border protester dies

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By Reuters

Gaza - One of six Palestinians shot and wounded by Israeli troops on Friday while protesting at the Gaza Strip boundary fence died on Saturday, hospital officials said.

The fortified fence and a 300-metre-deep zone on the Palestinian side - on which Israel has regularly fired since 2009 with the declared aim of keeping gunmen and infiltrators away from the border - have been a testing ground for the Nov. 21 truce that ended an eight-day surge in Gaza fighting.

Gaza's Hamas government has said the Egyptian-brokered ceasefire would put an end to the Israeli no-go zone, allowing Palestinian farmers back to their land there. Israel has said it would back off if Palestinians did not threaten to strike across the boundary.

Asked about Friday's shootings near the southern town of Rafah, an Israeli military spokeswoman said Palestinians had come up to the fence to vandalise it. Soldiers warned them away, and when that did not deter them, shot at their legs, she said.

Palestinians described the incident as a demonstration, saying that six people were wounded by the Israeli gunfire. One of them, a 21-year-old man, died on Saturday, hospital officials in Gaza said.

Islamist Hamas remains hostile to the Jewish state but has on at least one occasion sent police to evacuate such protests since the ceasefire, saying it sought both to shore up the truce and prevent Palestinian casualties. - Reuters

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