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Palestinian journalist dies of wounds sustained in Gaza border clashes

Slain Palestinian journalist Yaser Murtaja (Photo via Twitter)

A Palestinian journalist has died after succumbing to wounds he sustained during clashes with Israeli forces near the border between the besieged Gaza Strip and the occupied Palestinian territories.

The Gaza Ministry of Health said in a statement that 31-year-old Yaser Murtaja, a cameraman for the Palestinian Arabic-language Ain Media news agency, died from his wounds on Saturday.

Palestinian health officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said a live bullet had penetrated the side of his abdomen and he lost his life in hospital.

Video footage showed Murtaja lying wounded on a stretcher wearing a navy-blue protective vest marked 'PRESS' in large black capital letters.

The Palestinian Journalists' Syndicate said in a statement that it held Israel “fully accountable for this crime.”

Injured Palestinian protestors receive treatment at a medical tent during clashes with Israeli troops on the Gaza-Israel border, in the southern Gaza Strip city of Khan Younis, on April 6, 2018. (Photo by Xinhua news agency)

It added that five other journalists were also shot during the deadly protests along the Gaza border, insisting they were wearing clothes clearly identifying them as members of the press.

Witnesses said Murtaja was close to the front of the protests in southern Gaza when he was shot.

The Gaza Health Ministry also announced on Saturday the death of another man, 20-year-old Hamza Abdel Aal, saying he was shot east of al-Bureij refugee camp in central Gaza Strip.

RSF accuses Israel of deliberate killing of journalists in Gaza  

The media rights group Reporters Without Borders (RSF) on Saturday condemned the killing of Murtaja and accused the Israeli army of the "deliberate shooting" of journalists in Gaza. 

"Palestinian photographer Yaser Murtaja was wearing a vest marked "Press": he was obviously the victim of an intentional shot," said Christophe Deloire, the Secretary General of Reporters Without Borders, on Twitter.

"RSF condemns absolutely the deliberate shooting of journalists by the Israeli army."

Palestinian Authority condemns US stance vis-à-vis Gaza protests

Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority has slammed Washington’s approach towards the ongoing rallies in the Gaza Strip, and its refusal to hold the Tel Aviv regime and its armed forces responsible for the growing number of deaths.

The Palestinian Foreign Ministry, in a statement released on Saturday, said that the latest remarks by US President Donald Trump's Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt concerning the situation in the Gaza Strip had resulted in the death of 29 Palestinian civilians and injury of hundreds of others.

Palestinians protest along the barrier between Gaza and Israeli-occupied territories near Nahal Oz on April 6, 2018. (Photo by Xinhua news agency)

“Such comments are a blatant violation of international law and resolutions, as well as United Nations principles that guarantee the right to peaceful protests,” the statement noted.

Greenblatt had said in a tweet that the protesters should remain outside the 500-meter buffer zone with Israel, and should not approach the border fence in any way or any location.

The Palestinian Foreign Ministry further noted that Washington’s blind support for the Israeli regime helps it continue the massacre of Palestinian people.

Additionally, Secretary General of the Palestine Liberation Organization Saeb Erekat has censured the US for impeding a UN resolution to denounce Israel’s ongoing acts of aggression along the border fence with the Gaza Strip.

“The US has decided to defend the colonial Israeli regime, and the massacre it commits in the occupied Palestinian territories,” he said.

The Palestinian rally, dubbed the "Great March of Return," will last until May 15, which coincides with the 70th anniversary of Nakba Day (Day of Catastrophe) on which Israel was created.  

Every year on May 15, Palestinians all over the world hold demonstrations to commemorate Nakba Day, which marks the anniversary of the forcible eviction of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homeland by Israelis in 1948.

More than 760,000 Palestinians - now estimated to number nearly five million with their descendants - were driven out of their homes on May 14, 1948.

Palestinian protesters carry an injured man during clashes on the Gaza border with the Israeli-occupied territories on April 6, 2018. (Photo by Xinhua news agency)

Since 1948, the Israeli regime has denied Palestinian refugees the right to return, despite UN resolutions and international law that upholds people’s right to return to their homelands.

This year's Land Day demonstrations appear especially combustible as Palestinian anger is already high over Trump's decision in December 2017 to recognize Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel's "capital."

Israel occupied the West Bank, East Jerusalem al-Quds and parts of Syria’s Golan Heights during the Six-Day War in 1967. It later annexed East Jerusalem al-Quds in a move not recognized by the international community.

Israel is required to withdraw from all the territories seized in the war under UN Security Council Resolution 242, adopted months after the Six-Day War, in November 1967, but the Tel Aviv regime has defied that piece of international law ever since.

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