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Israeli soldiers gun down Palestinian protester in Gaza Strip

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Slain Palestinian youth Mohammad Saeed Abu Sa’ada

Israeli military forces have shot and killed a young Palestinian man in the central part of the besieged Gaza Strip as they opened fire on a group of people protesting against the Tel Aviv regime’s recent ban on the use of speakers for Muslim call to prayers.

On Friday, scores of Palestinians converged east of Bureij refugee camp to express their strong opposition to the controversial and so-called Muezzin Bill. Skirmishes broke out when Israeli soldiers intervened, and fired gunshots to disperse the crowd.

Gaza's Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra said a 26-year-man, identified as Mohammad Saeed Abu Sa’ada, was fatally struck in the chest. At least two protesters were injured during the clashes as well.

A third Palestinian man sustained injuries during a separate rally near Nahal Oz border crossing, which lies northeast of Gaza City.

During a cabinet meeting on Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would support the bill, claiming that calls to prayer make excessive noise.

Palestinian leaders argue that the bill is not about noise, but is rather intended only to silence mosques.

“This bill is the ugly product of Islamophobia that has come to dominate Israel,” Thabet Abu Ras of the Abraham Fund commented.

Haneen Zoabi, a Palestinian member of the Israeli Knesset (parliament), also said, “The issue is not about noise in their ears but about the noise in their minds. What disturbs them so much is the noise of the Palestinians' presence in their own homeland.”

Relatives of slain Palestinian protester Mohammad Saeed Abu Sa’ada mourn at a morgue in Gaza City, Gaza Strip, on November 18, 2016.

Earlier this week, Palestinian Minister of Waqf and Religious Affairs Youssef Ideiss had warned that the bill risked plunging the region into a “religious war.”

Israeli think-tank Democracy Institute has condemned the legislation as a threat to religious freedoms and unnecessarily divisive.

The group has also accused far-right Israeli politicians of dangerously using the issue to gain political gains under the guise of improving the quality of life.

The occupied territories have been the scene of increased tensions ever since Israeli forces imposed restrictions on the entry of Palestinian worshipers into the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in August 2015.

More than 260 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces since the beginning of October 2015.

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