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Israel kills Hamas member in Gaza; Palestinians vow revenge

A member of Hamas' security forces mourns over the body of Mahmoud al-Adham at a hospital morgue in Beit Lahya in the northern Gaza Strip on July 11, 2019. (Photo by AFP)

The Israeli military says its troops have opened fire at two members of the Palestinian Hamas resistance movement near the besieged Gaza Strip’s fence, killing one of them.

According to a military statement, Israeli troops observed the two armed men approaching the fence separating the Hamas-run enclave and the occupied territories on Thursday and “fired in order to drive them away.”

The Health Ministry in Gaza identified the Hamas officer as 28-year-old Mahmoud al-Adham, who was killed east of Beit Hanoun in the northern strip.

Adham appeared to have been shot as he was trying to stop two youths from approaching the fence.

The Israeli military confirmed that the Hamas officer “approached the border fence area following two Palestinians who were moving close to the fence.”

The Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ armed wing, said in a statement that the Israeli troops had deliberately opened fire to “hurt one of our fighters who was carrying out his job in preventing [Palestinians] from breaching the border fence.”

The brigades pledged not to let Adham’s death go “unpunished” and that Israel “would bear the consequences of this criminal act”.

The Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades has observation points close to the fence.

The Gaza-based Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement also strongly condemned the killing and called it a "grave escalation" and threatened to retaliate.

The incident comes amid a relatively calm period along the fence after a ceasefire brokered by Qatar, Egypt and the United Nations came into force between the Israeli regime and Hamas in May.

At least 295 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire in the Gaza Strip since massive anti-occupation protests began along the restive fence area in March 2018. Most lost their lives during weekly rallies but others were killed by Israeli airstrikes or tank fire.

Over 16,000 Palestinians have also sustained injuries.

The Gaza Strip has been under an inhumane Israeli siege since 2007 and witnessed three wars since 2008. The blockade has caused a decline in the standard of living as well as unprecedented levels of unemployment and unrelenting poverty.

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