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Israeli bulldozer dragging Palestinian's body in Gaza sparks outrage

Israel says jets strike Islamic Jihad targets near Damascus and dozens of targets in Gaza after rockets fired from enclave in response to 'war crime'
Footage showed an Israeli army bulldozer, escorted by a tank, confronting young men who tried to evacuate the wounded (AFP)

Israeli forces shot dead one Palestinian in the blockaded Gaza Strip on Sunday, then extracted his body with a bulldozer in an incident caught on camera that has sparked outrage. 

The army said it opened fire on two Palestinian men suspected of placing a bomb next to the fence separating the besieged enclave from Israel in the southern Gaza Strip.

"Following the successful thwarting of the attack near the Gaza Strip fence earlier this morning, an IDF [Israeli army] bulldozer extracted the body of one of the attackers," a military spokeswoman told AFP.

Footage widely shared and condemned by Palestinians and others on social media showed an Israeli army bulldozer, escorted by a Merkava battle tank, confronting young men who tried to evacuate the wounded. The bulldozer is then seen carrying a dead man's body along by his clothes. 

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The Gaza health ministry confirmed that two men were transferred to the European hospital in Khan Younis. One of them had been shot in his legs, it said.

The Legal Centre for Arab Minority Rights in Israel (Adala) has demanded a criminal investigation into the incident. 

In a letter to Israeli Chief Military Advocate General Sharon Afek, the centre cited international laws that could classify the incident as a "war crime". It also said the action violates Israeli laws. 

"The Israeli Supreme Court has likewise recognised in past rulings that harm to the dignity of the deceased is a violation of Israel's basic law: human dignity and liberty," the centre said.

Islamic Jihad vows retaliation

Islamic Jihad, a militant group in Gaza, said in a statement on Sunday that the dead man was one of its members.

"Mohamed Ali al-Naem, 27, has been martyred in the Israeli crime," a statement said. The group vowed retaliation. 

Fawzi Barhoum, the spokesman for the Hamas movement that governs the Gaza Strip, said the man who was killed was unarmed.

"Desecrating the dead body of a young unarmed man on the borders of the Gaza Strip in front of the cameras of the whole world is a heinous crime that adds to the occupation's list of crimes against our Palestinian people," he said in a statement. 

Late on Sunday, Israeli media said that rockets had been fired from Gaza into Israeli neighbourhoods near the separation fence, but no casualties were reported. 

Sirens have been activated in the areas, where residents reported seeing Iron Dome defence interceptors being fired, according to a Times of Israel military correspondent. No Palestinian group had claimed responsibility for the rockets. 

Following the barrage of rockets, the Israeli army carried out air strikes against Islamic Jihad in Syria, it announced.

A statement said Israeli "fighter jets struck Islamic Jihad terror targets south of Damascus, as well as dozens of Islamic Jihad terror targets throughout the Gaza Strip," in response to more than 20 rockets and mortars fired from the Palestinian enclave throughout the day.

Israeli-Palestinian tensions have increased since 28 January, when US President Donald Trump released his vision for addressing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict - a plan firmly rejected by the Palestinian leadership in both the occupied West Bank and Gaza who described it as "a gift" to Israel.

This article is available in French on Middle East Eye French edition.

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