A Palestinian farmer has been killed by Israeli artillery fire in Gaza, Palestinian officials say, hours before a major protest by Palestinians along the border is due to start.
The strike happened near the town of Khan Yunis, in southern Gaza.
The Israeli military said a tank had fired at two suspects after suspicious activity near a security fence.
Palestinians have pitched tents on the border for a six-week protest dubbed the Great March of Return.
Hamas, the militant group which dominates the Gaza Strip, has accused Israel of trying to intimidate Palestinians by killing the farmer and by urging them not to participate in the protests.
The Israeli foreign ministry has said the protest is a “deliberate attempt to provoke a confrontation with Israel” and that “responsibility for any clashes lies solely with Hamas and other participating Palestinian organisations”.
Palestinian health officials named the dead man as 27-year-old Omar Samour and said a second man had been injured.
Witnesses say the two men were hit by tank fire while collecting parsley in a field, BBC Gaza producer Rushdi Abualouf reports.
Palestinians have erected five main camp areas along the Israel border for the protest, from Erez in the north to Rafah near the Egyptian border in the south.
The Israeli military oversees a no-go zone along the Gaza border, citing security concerns.
The Great March of Return protests are starting on Friday, as 30 March marks Land Day, which commemorates the killing of six protesters by Israeli security forces during demonstrations over land confiscation in 1976.
The protest is scheduled to end on 15 May, which Palestinians call Nakba (catastrophe) and which marks the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians during the conflict surrounding the creation of Israel in 1948.
Tents have been pitched by Palestinians in five locations on the edge of the buffer zone near the border. It is a sign that the protest, which has been dubbed the Great March of Return, is in it for the long haul.
Palestinian organisers – Hamas foremost among them – have urged tens of thousands of people to take part in the first protest.
Israel is wary, as tensions have once again been rising along the border with Gaza. The military has deployed more than 100 sharpshooters, while the foreign ministry has made clear it does not believe that Hamas intends the protest to remain peaceful.
All of this is happening in the shadow of the upcoming inauguration of the new US embassy in Jerusalem, which is set to happen in May – a development that may well help fuel the protest.
Source : BBC NEWS