Teen dies in Gaza border rally


Summary

Tens of thousands of flag-waving Hamas supporters had gathered yesterday at the Rafah border crossing with Egypt to demand it be reopened.

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The border, Gaza's only gateway to Egypt, has been shut since Hamas's bloody takeover of the Gaza Strip in June.

Shots fired

Hamas gunmen guarding the border fired in the air as hundreds of protesters tried to rush the border terminal and go into Egypt.

A 17-year-old was shot in the head and later pronounced dead, medics say. Seven others were trampled or wounded by gunfire.

"This is a peaceful protest to voice our message that we are looking for freedom," says Issa Mashar, a top Hamas leader in Rafah.

"We came to send a message from the people who are suffering."

Appeal for calm

Ashraf Abu Daya, one of the rally's organisers, appealed for calm from the crowd.

"There is no need to break into the crossing. The crossing is no longer under the occupation.

“The crossing is under the control of the Hamas Executive Committee," he says.

Hamas charges that the government of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas does not want the crossing opened by Egypt because that would help the Islamic group hold on to power in Gaza.

Border closure

The Hamas takeover triggered the closure of the border crossing, which had been run by Palestinian security with European supervision and Israeli security in the background.

Ihab al-Ghusain, a Hamas security spokesman, says its forces tried to prevent a few of the demonstrators from approaching the border with Egypt.

"A child was injured and he is in critical condition. We are investigating the incident to determine where the shot came from," he says.


Tens of thousands of flag-waving Hamas supporters had gathered yesterday at the Rafah border crossing with Egypt to demand it be reopened.

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The border, Gaza's only gateway to Egypt, has been shut since Hamas's bloody takeover of the Gaza Strip in June.

Shots fired

Hamas gunmen guarding the border fired in the air as hundreds of protesters tried to rush the border terminal and go into Egypt.

A 17-year-old was shot in the head and later pronounced dead, medics say. Seven others were trampled or wounded by gunfire.

"This is a peaceful protest to voice our message that we are looking for freedom," says Issa Mashar, a top Hamas leader in Rafah.

"We came to send a message from the people who are suffering."

Appeal for calm

Ashraf Abu Daya, one of the rally's organisers, appealed for calm from the crowd.

"There is no need to break into the crossing. The crossing is no longer under the occupation.

“The crossing is under the control of the Hamas Executive Committee," he says.

Hamas charges that the government of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas does not want the crossing opened by Egypt because that would help the Islamic group hold on to power in Gaza.

Border closure

The Hamas takeover triggered the closure of the border crossing, which had been run by Palestinian security with European supervision and Israeli security in the background.

Ihab al-Ghusain, a Hamas security spokesman, says its forces tried to prevent a few of the demonstrators from approaching the border with Egypt.

"A child was injured and he is in critical condition. We are investigating the incident to determine where the shot came from," he says.