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Thousands of Palestinians protest at Gaza border

January 18, 2019
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Palestinians gather by Khalil Jabarin's demolished apartment in the family house, in the West Bank village of Yatta, south of Hebron, Friday Jan. 18, 2019. Jabarin is charged with stabbing to death an Israeli in a West Bank settlement. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — Thousands of Palestinians have gathered for a weekly protest along the fence between Gaza and Israel.

The Palestinian Health Ministry says that Israeli gunfire wounded 14 Palestinians and that three medics suffered from a barrage of tear gas that targeted their ambulance.

The protest appeared subdued compared to last week’s violence, in which one woman was killed and more than two dozen Palestinians and an Israeli soldier were wounded, prompting retaliatory Israeli air strikes.

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that Israel would decide whether to allow the latest delivery of economic aid from Qatar to flow into Gaza based on the level of escalation Friday.

Israel has been allowing Qatar to transfer batches of $15 million in aid, intended for the salaries of Gaza’s civil servants, directly to Hamas since November. But the shipment was delayed earlier this month after a rocket was fired from Gaza that caused no casualties but threatened to spike tensions between the bitter enemies.

Gaza’s Hamas rulers have orchestrated the weekly protests, in part to call for the lifting of a crippling Israeli and Egyptian blockade imposed when the militant group seized power in 2007. The blockade has devastated the local economy in Gaza, where unemployment exceeds 50 percent.

Israeli forces have killed more than 185 Palestinians and wounded thousands since the demonstrations began last spring. An Israeli soldier was killed in July.

Israel accuses Hamas of using the protests as a cover for attacks and says it only uses force to defend its borders. But Palestinians and rights groups accuse it of using excessive force.

Earlier Friday, Israeli forces demolished the family home of a Palestinian charged with fatally stabbing an American-Israeli settler several months ago.

Israeli soldiers surrounded Khalil Jabarin’s home in the southern West Bank village of Yatta and destroyed the apartment with explosives after his family cleared out.

Jabarin, 17, was accused of killing the U.S.-born settler activist Ari Fuld at a mall near a West Bank settlement in September. Footage showed Fuld firing at his attacker before collapsing.

The military says dozens of Palestinians protesting the demolition hurled rocks toward the forces, who responded with “riot dispersal means,” which usually refers to rubber-tipped bullets and tear gas.

While Israel claims home demolitions serve as a deterrent to potential attackers, critics say the tactic amounts to collective punishment that inflames hostility.

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