An Israeli special forces officer shot during confrontations with Palestinians along the perimeter fence with the besieged Gaza Strip nine days ago has died of his wounds, Israeli police said.
Barel Hadaria Shmueli was part of a Border Police special unit operating during confrontations on the sidelines of a Palestinian demonstration against the Israeli blockade on Gaza near the perimeter fence separating the Hamas-run enclave and Israel.
“On Saturday, [August 21] during an operational activity on the border fence of the northern Gaza Strip, the force came under fire from the Strip, and Barel was critically wounded,” a police statement said on Monday.
“After over a week during which he fought for his life along with the staff at Soroka hospital (in the southern Israeli city Beersheba), he was pronounced dead.”
A total of 41 Palestinians were wounded in the protests that weekend according to the Gaza Health Ministry.
Two died of their injuries last week – a 12-year-old boy and a member of the al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas.
The confrontations were the most violent along the perimeter fence since the end of the weekly Great March of Return protests in 2019.
The movement, which began in 2017, demanding an end to Israel’s blockade and the right of Palestinians to return to lands they fled or were expelled from when the Jewish state was founded in 1948.
The protests ended after Egypt, Qatar, and the United Nations mediated an agreement between Israel and Hamas, where Israel agreed to relax its blockade.
The Hamas-backed weekly demonstrations, often violent, sputtered as Israel killed some 350 Palestinians in Gaza more than a year.
Israel and Palestinian groups then fought a devastating 11-day conflict in May, the worst between the two sides in years, which ended with an informal truce.
Incendiary balloons sent from the Palestinian territory towards Israel have continued in the months since, however, with Israel blaming Hamas and often launching their own attacks with air raids.
Israel has, at the same time, been easing restrictions on civilian life and commerce for the territory it has blockaded since 2007, when Hamas took power.
Some two million people live in the impoverished coastal strip, according to aid organisations.
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