THE CITY OF GAZA, Gaza Strip
A 12-year-old Palestinian boy who was shot in the head by Israeli gunfire during a violent protest on the Gaza-Israel border last week died of his injuries on Saturday, health officials said of Gaza.
Hassan Abu al-Neil was shot dead on August 21 during a demonstration organized by Hamas leaders in Gaza to protest the crippling blockade imposed by Egypt and Israel.
Violence erupted when Palestinian protesters began throwing stones and explosives at Israeli troops near the fortified border. Israeli troops retaliated by opening fire, injuring more than 40 Palestinians, including al-Neil.
Another Palestinian, later identified as a member of the armed wing of Hamas, died of his injuries on Wednesday.
An Israeli soldier remains in critical condition after being shot in the head at close range by a protester during the clashes.
Later Saturday, Hamas operatives launched a number of incendiary balloons from Gaza, setting off two fires in southern Israel, according to the Israeli fire service.
No injuries were immediately reported. But Israel often responds to fires with airstrikes on Hamas targets
Over the past few weeks, Hamas has launched incendiary balloons into southern Israel several times, sparking multiple fires on the Israeli side of the border.
Hamas has also planned another border protest on Saturday evening to try to keep pressure on Israel to ease the blockade.
A demonstration took place on Wednesday without serious violence. Under pressure from Egyptian mediators, Hamas kept protesters away from the separation fence. But it was not immediately clear whether Hamas would increase the intensity of the protests on Saturday.
Following Wednesday’s protest, Israel said it was relaxing some of the trade restrictions on Gaza, allowing vehicles, goods and equipment for reconstruction projects to enter the Palestinian enclave. Israel’s defense ministry said the easing could expand further if things remain calm.
Egypt, which had closed its border post with Gaza to pressure Hamas, also partially reopened the crossing to allow a slight flow of traffic to enter Gaza from Egypt.
The Israeli government reached an agreement with Qatar on August 19 allowing the Gulf country to resume aid payments to families in the Gaza Strip, a move aimed at reducing tensions with Hamas in the aftermath of the 11th war. days in May. Israel suspended aid payments in May and said the move was necessary to ensure Hamas does not benefit from cash injections.
Israel has waged four wars and many small battles with Hamas since the Islamic militant group took control of Gaza in 2007, a year after winning Palestinian elections
At least 260 Palestinians were killed during the Gaza-Israel war in May, including 67 children and 39 women, according to the Gaza health ministry. Hamas has acknowledged the deaths of 80 militants. Twelve civilians, including two children, were killed in Israel, along with a soldier.