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Israelis kill Palestinian man in Gaza buffer zone

Ahmed Arafa, 25, shot in the chest near east of Bureij, taking toll to 18 since mass protests began on Friday
Relative mourns as she looks at the body of a Palestinian, who was killed along Israel border with Gaza, 3 April (Reuters)

A Palestinian man was shot dead by Israeli troops on the Gaza border on Tuesday, the health ministry in the strip said.

The ministry said 25-year-old Ahmed Arafa was shot in the chest in the buffer zone area east of Bureij in central Gaza.

The Israeli army said it was looking into the incident and could not immediately comment.

Arafa's death is the 18th since a mass demonstration known as the "Great March Return" began on Friday.

Protests have continued since, with thousands expected to take to the streets again this Friday, to demand their right of return to their villages and towns in what is now Israel.

Protests are expected to continue until 15 May, which marks the 70th anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba (Catastrophe), in which more than 750,000 Palestinians were forcibly displaced by Israeli forces in 1948 Arab-Israeli war.

Israel's use of live fire last week has been criticised by rights groups, while the EU and the UN chief, Antonio Guterres, have called for an independent investigation.

Israel defended its soldiers' actions on Friday, saying they opened fire only when "necessary" against those "throwing stones and firebombs or rolling tyres at soldiers".

It claimed there were attempts to damage the fence and "infiltrate" Israel.

Human Rights Watch on Tuesday said Friday's killings were unlawful and "calculated," also saying the border protests posed no immediate threat to Israeli soldiers.

The Friday, 30 March, coincided with what Palestinians call "Land Day" commemorating the day Israeli forces killed six Palestinians during protests against land confiscation in 1976.

Palestinians say protesters were fired on while posing no threat to soldiers.

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