Journalist among 9 dead in latest Gaza clashes, Palestinian health officials say

Palestinian journalists carry a portrait of a journalist during his funeral on Saturday.
Palestinian journalists carry a portrait of a journalist during his funeral on Saturday.

A Palestinian journalist was among nine people killed as confrontations Friday between Palestinian protesters and Israeli forces along the Israel-Gaza border turned violent, Palestinian health officials in Gaza said Saturday.

Israeli troops fired live rounds Friday against Palestinians attempting to break through the border fence, the Israeli military said, a week after violence led to the bloodiest day in Gaza since 2014.

In response to a query regarding the journalist's death, the Israel Defense Forces told CNN: "The IDF does not intentionally target journalists. The circumstances in which journalists were allegedly hit by IDF fire are not familiar to the IDF, and are being looked into."

In photos apparently showing the journalist at the time he was injured, he was wearing a vest that said "PRESS."

In all, 31 people have been killed in violence in Gaza since an initial protest was held at the border fence on March 30, according to a CNN count based on the Palestinian Health Ministry figures.

Another 1,356 were injured in Friday's violence, the ministry said, 35 of them seriously. Of those, 399 were hurt by live fire rounds and 16 by rubber bullets.

The injured included 24 women and 81 children, according to the ministry, as well as another journalist, who was moderately wounded east of Rafah in southern Gaza.

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The Israeli military said it had thwarted numerous "terror attack" attempts and efforts by Palestinians to breach the border fence under the cover of smoke into Israel from Gaza on Friday. The military said Palestinians had thrown explosive devices and firebombs towards Israeli troops.

The Israeli military and officials have repeatedly said they will not allow any breach of the fence, and that those who do not abide by the rules of engagement will be shot.

Israeli troops responded Friday with "riot dispersal means" as well as live fire "in accordance with the rules of engagement," the IDF said. There have been no reports of Israeli military casualties.

Tensions had been building on both sides of the Gaza-Israel border ahead of what some Palestinians alternately dubbed "Friday of Fire" or "Friday of Tires" -- a reference to the tires set alight in an attempt to obscure the sights of Israeli snipers. It was the second in a sequence of "March of Return" actions planned through mid-May.

The goal of the "March of Return" protests, Palestinians say, is to cross the border fence and return to their lands, which became part of Israel seven decades ago.
Israel blames Hamas and Islamic Jihad for the violence, and has warned it will strike deep inside Gaza if provoked.