Israeli soldiers have shot dead a Palestinian scrap collector near a town along the Gaza Strip’s northern border, Palestinian medical sources say.
The Palestinian man was gathering gravel on Monday in an area north of Beit Lahiya when an Israeli soldier fired at him, killing him on the spot, Adham Abu Selmiya, a spokesman for medical services in Gaza, told AFP.
"A Palestinian worker collecting gravel was martyred after being shot by Israeli occupation forces," he said, adding that the victim’s body was taken to Kamal Adwan hospital in the Gaza City.
Israel has declared a so-called 300-meter buffer zone along the border with Gaza and has warned that anyone who comes close to the separation fence will be shot by soldiers manning watchtowers.
However, Palestinians usually go to the area to collect building materials in short supply due to the crippling Israeli blockade imposed on the impoverished territory since June 2007 when Israel and neighboring Egypt shut down Gaza’s borders and tightened a siege already in place.
The Monday shooting comes shortly after Israeli warplanes pounded areas in the south and center of the coastal enclave.
The United Nations has repeatedly warned of a humanitarian crisis threatening the lives of some 1.5 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.
Human rights groups have criticized the international community for its silence on the siege on Gaza. The closure has continued long after Israel’s December 2008-January 2009 offensive that shattered the stagnant economy of the territory.