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Palestinian killed by Israeli air strike on Gaza border

Palestinian man killed on Gaza border takes the total number of protesters killed by Israeli forces since Friday to 20
A protester holds Palestinian flags during a demonstration at the Israel-Gaza border in the southern Gaza Strip (Reuters)

A Palestinian was killed by an Israeli air strike on the Gaza border early on Thursday, the health ministry in the Palestinian enclave said, as tensions increased ahead of new protests. Palestinians marked Land Day with protests across the occupied territories and Israel on Friday.

The health ministry did not identify the man but said he died in Shifa hospital in Gaza City after being targeted by an Israeli strike near the border.

The Israeli army earlier said an aircraft had "targeted an armed terrorist adjacent to the security fence", and said it would "not allow any harm to the security of Israeli civilians".

It did not specify if the strike was carried out by a drone or other aircraft.

Separately on Thursday, the health ministry announced another man had died of wounds suffered last Friday in protests on Land Day on the Gaza border.

Shadi al-Kashif, 34, was shot in the head near the border in southern Gaza and had since been in critical condition, the ministry said. 

The death brings the toll from Friday alone to 18 Palestinians killed. A total of 20 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed since Friday.

Land Day stems from 30 March 1976, when Israeli forces killed six Palestinian citizens of Israel during a protest against land confiscations. Palestinians have marked the day for the past 42 years to denounce Israeli policies to take over Palestinian land.

This year, it came on the heels of months of anger over US President Donald Trump’s decision to move the American embassy to Jerusalem, largely perceived as the United States rejecting Palestinian claims to East Jerusalem as their capital as part of a two-state solution.

In the Gaza Strip, where 1.3 million of the territory’s two million inhabitants are refugees, protest organisers have called for six weeks of demonstrations called the "Great March of Return" along the border of the besieged Palestinian enclave and Israel, starting on Land Day and culminating on 15 May for Nakba Day, marking the displacement of Palestinians by Israel in 1948.

Israel has faced calls for an independent investigation from the European Union and United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres over Friday's violence.

Israel has rejected the calls, saying its soldiers opened fire when necessary to prevent attacks, attempts to damage the fence and infiltrations.

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

Thousands are expected to rally along the border again on Friday.

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