Israeli Gunfire Kills Palestinian Near Gaza Border
by VOA News November 23, 2012
Israeli gunfire at the Gaza Strip border has killed a Palestinian — the first death since a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas militants halted eight days of deadly fighting.
Palestinian medical officials say Anwar Qdeih was shot as he approached the border fence Friday with a group of Palestinians. Several others were wounded in the violence. Reuters news agency quotes a relative of Qdeih as saying he was trying to place a Hamas flag on the fence.
Israel's military says warning shots were fired in the air when about 300 Palestinians approached the border fence in southern Gaza. The military says after the Palestinians refused to move back, troops fired at their legs.
The military also says a Palestinian crossed into Israel during the unrest and was returned to Gaza by soldiers.
Hamas accused Israel of violating the Egyptian-mediated truce and said the militant group will contact Egyptian officials to discuss the incident.
The violence comes amid more than a day of quiet skies, after an Egyptian-brokered truce went into effect late Wednesday.
Gaza's Hamas prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, hailed the territory's multiple militant groups for respecting the cease-fire.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his government was "giving the truce a chance," but was prepared for its possible collapse.
As a precaution, schools remained closed in southern Israel, where nerves were on edge after a constant rain of rockets during the most serious Israeli-Palestinian fighting in four years.
Egypt is monitoring both sides for violations of the cease-fire agreement. The truce follows several days of intense aerial assaults on both sides of the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip, leaving more than 160 Palestinians and six Israelis dead.
According to tenets of the truce, border areas from Gaza would be opened, allowing people and goods to move in and out of the territory, if Israel and the Hamas militants who run the Gaza Strip successfully maintained peace for a 24-hour period. According to The Associated Press, "Egypt is hosting separate talks with Israeli and Hamas envoys on ... a new border deal for blockaded Gaza."
The Secretary General of the Palestinian People's Party, Bassam al-Salhi, visited China Friday. He expressed thanks for China's long-standing support of Palestinian statehood.
"What we need is to make international protection of this truce and international protection for the Palestine people," he said. "We will continue our political efforts to have this membership in the United Nations."
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Ying Chun said China welcomed the cease-fire. She urged the international community to make greater efforts for mediation and push Israel and the Palestinians to resume peace talks for progress.
Hua says China will maintain close communication with parties concerned in efforts to bring peace to the region.
Wednesday's cease-fire agreement was reached amid hours of intense diplomacy involving U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has given a tentative approval to the deal.
Israel and Hamas had traded rocket fire for eight days since an Israeli missile killed Hamas's military chief in Gaza City last week. Israel says the attack was in response to months of almost daily rocket fire into southern Israel from Gaza.
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