Gaza officials say woman killed by Israeli fire at protest

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) - Israeli forces killed a Palestinian woman during mass protests on the Gaza frontier Friday, according to Palestinian medics, and the Israeli military said aircraft struck two Hamas posts in response to the violent demonstrations.

The violence at the protests, in which more than two dozen Palestinians and an Israeli soldier were wounded, threatened to complicate efforts by Egyptian mediators, who are trying to shore up a two-month-old cease-fire.

Ashraf al-Kidra, a spokesman for Gaza's Health Ministry, said Amal al-Taramsi, 43, was shot in the head during the protests. He said another 25 Palestinians were wounded by gunfire.

A witness, identifying herself only as Umm Yazan, said al-Taramsi was standing about 150 meters (yards) away from the fence. "She took a flag from a youth and before she moved, three gunshots rang out... she fell down," the woman told reporters at Gaza's al-Shifa hospital, where relatives of the woman gathered.

The Israeli military said some 13,000 protesters and rioters participated in several demonstrations along the fence, with some hurling rocks and firebombs at troops on the other side. The military said an Israeli soldier was struck by a rock and lightly wounded.

The military said protesters briefly crossed the frontier into Israel on three occasions before returning to Gaza. In one of the instances, the military said it fired toward them. It said it struck two Hamas posts in response to the violence.

There were no reports of casualties from the airstrikes.

Hamas has led mass demonstrations along the frontier every Friday since March, calling for the lifting of an Israeli and Egyptian blockade imposed on Gaza when the Islamic militant group seized power in 2007. The protesters burn tires and hurl rocks and firebombs at Israeli forces dug in behind sand berms on the other side of the fence.

More than 185 Palestinians and an Israeli soldier have been killed since the protests began. Israel says it only uses live fire to defend against attacks, but the Palestinians and rights groups accuse it of using excessive force.

A botched Israeli commando operation ignited hostilities in November, with Hamas firing hundreds of rockets and Israel responding with a wave of airstrikes, in the most intense exchange of fire since the 2014 Gaza war.

Egypt brokered a cease-fire and has been trying to restore calm after a rocket attack earlier this month that caused no casualties. Israel responded to the attack by delaying the delivery of $15 million in Qatari aid, which is intended to pay Hamas civil servants and help preserve the calm.

In the occupied West Bank, meanwhile, the Israeli military said its forces shot and wounded a Palestinian who attempted to stab soldiers near a Jewish settlement outside the city of Hebron. The army said it evacuated the assailant for medical treatment.

The Palestinian Health Ministry said the man was in critical condition. No Israeli soldiers were harmed.


Associated Press writer Isabel DeBre in Jerusalem contributed.


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