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Palestinian death toll climbs as Israel unleashes strikes across Gaza

Tear gas canisters fired by Israeli forces landing amid protesters in Gaza [Getty]

Date of publication: 20 July, 2018

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At least four Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire in a fresh round of attacks on the besieged enclave.
At least four Palestinians were killed on Friday as Israel unleashed air strikes and tank fire across Gaza.

Hamas, the enclave's Islamist rulers, has reported three members of its military wing killed; Shaban abu Khatar, Mohammed abu Farhana and Mahmoud Qushta, saying they were fighters. A fourth Palestinian, Mohammed Badwan, was also reported dead.

An Israeli army statement said shots were fired at troops during renewed protests along the Gaza border with Israel and "in response, (Israeli) aircraft and tanks targeted military targets throughout the Gaza Strip."

It is not believed any Israeli soldiers were hurt in the shooting.

Two Palestinians were killed in a strike east of Khan Yunis in southern Gaza, the health ministry in the enclave said.

A third man was killed by Israeli fire east of Rafah, also in southern Gaza, the ministry said.

Israel's military said it had targeted "eight military posts" belonging to Hamas. 

Last weekend saw the most severe exchange of fire between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza since a 2014 war, raising worries of another round of confrontation.

At least 147 Palestinians have been killed since the Great Return March protests broke out on 30 March. No Israelis have been killed.

Palestinians are calling to return to the homes their families were forced from in 1948, during the war surrounding the creation of Israel.

Protesters have also called for an end to the decade-long crippling blockade on the Palestinian enclave.

Israel says its use of live fire is necessary to defend its borders and stop infiltrations but human rights groups accuse it of disproportionate force against unarmed protesters. 

Palestinians mourned on Saturday when two Palestinian children were killed - and at least fourteen others injured - from Israeli rocket strikes on Gaza, the largest daylight attack on the strip since the 2014 war. On Thursday, Hamas fighter Abdul Kareem Radwan was killed in an Israeli air strike east of Rafah.

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