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Palestinian teen shot by Israel on first March of Return protest dies of wounds

Ahmed al-Ayeda was hit by Israeli fire on 30 March east of the Bureij refugee camp in the Gaza Strip
Some 160 Palestinian protesters have been killed in the Great March of Return protests. (AFP)

A Palestinian teen shot by Israeli forces on the Gaza-Israel frontier during the first Great March of Return protest on 30 March has died, Gaza’s health ministry said late Sunday.

The 17-year-old, identified as Ahmed al-Ayeda, was “martyred” after being shot by live Israeli fire east of Bureij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip, the ministry said in a statement. The teen has been in critical care since then.

Ayeda was participating in the first of a wave of demonstrations along the Gaza Strip’s frontier with Israel known as the Great March of Return.

Since 30 March, Palestinians have gathered near Israel’s security fence demanding the right to return to the homes they and their relatives were expelled from in 1948 and an end to the crippling Israeli siege on the coastal enclave.

Despite being largely peaceful and activist-led, the Israeli military has continually responded violently to the demonstrations, using live fire on protesters.

Around 160 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since the protests began, including 60 on the day of the US embassy opening, with more than 17,000 wounded. One Israeli soldier has been killed.

In the early days of the protest movement, Palestinians were seen demonstrating regularly in the leadup to Nakba Day – the commemoration of the expulsion of Palestinians from their homes during the creation of Israel – and the opening of the new US embassy in Jerusalem.

Now the protests occur mostly on Fridays, though pro-Palestinian activists have sought to find new ways to draw attention to Israeli oppression and abuses, such as flotillas of activists attempting to break the naval blockade.

During the latest protest on Friday, Israel shot dead two more Palestinians.

Israel insists that Hamas, the de facto ruling party in the Gaza Strip, is behind the protests, an accusation fiercely denied by the activists who have led them.

In May, the United Nations voted to send an international war crimes probe to Gaza to investigate Israel’s violent crackdown on the protests.

Last month, Israeli daily Haaretz reported that an internal Israeli investigation was set to absolve its military of responsibility for the dozens of unarmed protesters killed by live fire.