Gaza City: Israeli troops shot dead a Palestinian man and wounded 19 people as crowds surged toward Gaza`s border fence with Israel today, a health official said, the first violence since a truce between Israel and Gaza`s Hamas rulers took hold a day before.
The shooting did not appear to pose an immediate threat to the Egypt-brokered cease-fire, which called for an end to Gaza rocket fire on Israel and Israeli airstrikes on Gaza. The truce came after eight days of cross-border fighting, the bloodiest between Israel and Hamas in four years.
The Gaza prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas, has urged militant factions to respect the cease-fire. It appeared unlikely Hamas would retaliate for the today`s shooting because that could jeopardise the militant group`s potential gains from the cease-fire deal, such as an easing of restrictions on movement in and out of the Palestinian territory.
Hamas officials were not immediately available for comment. Nafez Azzam, a spokesman for Gaza`s Islamic Jihad, said the shooting was a violation of the truce and that Egypt was informed.
Today, hundreds of Palestinians approached Israel`s border fence in several locations in southern Gaza, according to an Associated Press Television News cameraman. In the past, Israel`s military has barred Palestinians from getting close to the fence, and soldiers opened fire routinely to enforce a no-go zone meant to prevent infiltrations into Israel.
Since the cease-fire, growing numbers of Gazans have entered the no-go zone.
In one incident captured by Associated Press video, several dozen Palestinians, most of them young men, approached the fence, coming close to a group of Israeli soldiers standing on the other side.
Some Palestinians briefly talked to the soldiers, while others appeared to be taunting them with chants of "God is Great" and "Morsi, Morsi," in praise of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, whose mediation led to the truce.
At one point, a soldier shouted in Hebrew, "Go there, before I shoot you," and pointed away from the fence, toward Gaza. The soldier then dropped to one knee, assuming a firing position. Eventually, a burst of automatic fire was heard, but it was not clear whether any of the casualties were from this incident.
Gaza health official Ashraf al-Kidra said a 20-year-old man was killed and 19 people were wounded.