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Israeli fire wounds Associated Press cameraman in Gaza

Rashed Rashid was shot in his left ankle while filming hundreds of Palestinians protesting in Gaza
Palestinians have been protesting for several months as part of the Great March of Return movement (Reuters)

Israeli fire wounded a cameraman for the Associated Press news agency and 24 other Palestinians during protests on Monday in northern Gaza.

Rashed Rashid was shot in his left ankle while filming hundreds of Palestinians who were protesting on a beach by the border fence near Beit Lahia, a spokesman for the Gaza health ministry said.

He was taken to a hospital for treatment where doctors said he would need surgery after suffering multiple bone fractures above the ankle.

Co-workers said gunfire had come from the Israeli side of the border. The Israeli military said it was investigating the incident, according to the Associated Press. 

Najib Jobain, the AP’s senior producer in Gaza, told AP he was speaking on the phone to Rashid when he was shot.

“While with me on the line, I heard him shouting ‘I’m hit, I’m hit,'” recounted Jobain, who said Rashid told him the protest was ending and he was going to stop the transmission.

Witnesses told AP that Rashid was about 600 metres from the fence, far from the protesters. He was operating a live camera on an elevated area overlooking the protest and wearing a blue helmet and brown protective vest with the word “PRESS” written in white.

Israel has wounded several Palestinian journalists and killed two reporters covering the mass protests despite wearing vests visibly marked as "PRESS". 

In April, Yasser Murtaja, 30, a cameraman for Ain media, was the 29th Palestinian killed in the protests. He died from injuries sustained from Israeli fire, health officials said. 

During the same month, Ahmad Abu Hussein, 24, was shot in the abdomen by Israeli forces and subsequently died after succumbing to his injuries. 

Demonstrations have taken place in this area on Mondays since Palestinians began a wider protest movement in late March called the Great March of Return that is against a decade-long Israeli blockade of Gaza and the return of refugees to their family homes in Israel. 

An Israeli army spokesperson said on Monday that 750 Palestinians took part in "clashes" near the border and threw stones towards soldiers who responded "by using anti-riot measures and firing in line with standard operational procedures".

The army spokesperson did not say how many Palestinians had been hit by gunfire.

Protesters are calling to be allowed to return to the homes their families fled or were expelled from in the 1948 war surrounding the creation of Israel and which are now inside Israel.

Israeli gunfire or air strikes have killed at least 235 Palestinians since protests began more than seven months ago.

Two Israeli soldiers have been killed over the same period.

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