Palestinian witnesses and human rights officials said the episode illustrated the ambiguities of the deal, which called for an examination of the safeguards along a fenced 300-meter-wide buffer zone that Israel enforces on the Gaza side of the border, as well as negotiations on ending Israel’s blockade of the territory.
The Israeli bombardment pulverized government buildings and militant weapons stores, along with many homes and shops, leaving 161 Palestinians dead. But the Gaza Strip’s Hamas leadership has emerged stronger than ever, Palestinians in Gaza said Thursday.
Hamas, along with the masked fighters of other Gaza militant groups, held boisterous victory rallies across the Gaza Strip on Thursday, the day after the cease-fire with Israel was announced.
Amid parades of flags and political bombast, each of the strip’s militant factions hailed what they called a triumph for the Palestinian resistance and a new era for Palestinian unity.
But the separate public appearances by each militant group — rather than one unified rally — raised questions about the sturdiness of the cease-fire.
Anwar Abdel Hadi Qdeih, 20, was killed on the Gaza side when Israeli forces opened fire across the border on a few dozen mostly young men as they approached the first of two fences Friday morning, according to hospital officials and witnesses in the southern Gaza town of Khan Younis.
Hamas, the Islamist group that governs Gaza, denounced the shooting. But it then took the unusual step of escorting residents out of the buffer zone, after consulting with the cease-fire’s Egyptian mediators, Reuters news agency reported.
The Israeli military said hundreds of Palestinians had attempted to breach the border fence in several places Friday, prompting Israeli soldiers to shoot at them.
Some of the wounded said they had come to “see the situation” along the border, after learning from local news reports that the old border zone restrictions had been lifted.
“People were saying it’s okay to go to the fence now, and that there were no Jews there,” said Mahmoud Abu Tayem, 19, who was shot in the abdomen.
The area along the border where Abu Tayem lives is populated mostly by farmers and a small Bedouin community, who have long complained of limited access to farmland because of the Israeli-designated buffer zone.
Israel established the zone when it withdrew its military and settlements from the Gaza Strip in 2005. Although the zone officially extends 300 meters into the enclave from the Israeli border, in practice Israeli forces have opened fire on Palestinians who come within 500 meters of the border, said Sari Bashi, director of the Gisha Legal Center for the Freedom of Movement, an Israeli human rights group.