Israeli soldiers have shot and killed a 19-year-old Palestinian during a protest against a buffer zone being built between the eastern Gaza Strip and Israel, Gaza medical officials have said.
Moaweya Hassanein, was shot in the abdomen, the head of Gaza's emergency services, told reporters. He was evacuated to hospital in critical condition, where he later died of his wounds.
An Israeli human rights group, B'Tselem, released video footage shot by one of its Palestinian field workers, which showed a relative peaceful crowd of several dozen demonstrators being taken by surprise by a gunshot apparently fired by an Israeli soldier in view on the other side of the nearby security fence on the Gaza-Israel border.
The Palestinian teenager who was shot is then seen being carried away on a stretcher. No armed protesters could immediately be noticed in the unsteady video.
An Israeli military spokeswoman in Tel Aviv said the Israeli army was investigating the incident.
She called the protest violent, saying the protesters hurled rocks at the soldiers guarding the border fence and "lit fires that potentially could have damaged and reached the security fence.
"An IDF (Israel Defence Forces) force operated in order to drive the group away from the security fence, including firing warning shots," she told the German Press-Agency dpa.
The buffer area, she argued, is considered a "war zone" used by armed groups to carry out attacks against Israel.Palestinians say the aim of the peaceful protests is to prevent the establishment of the zone which they say is resulting in large areas of farmland being confiscated and farmers being prevented from reaching their fields.
Gaza has seen relative calm since the end of Israel's devastating three-week offensive on the Strip in the winter of 2008-2009 that left at least 1400 Palestinians killed.
Since the Gaza war, both Israel and Hamas have largely observed an unwritten truce, but in recent weeks fatal incidents in the area have increased, sparking some fears among observers that they may build up to a new cycle of violence.
Meanwhile, at least four Palestinians died and five others were suffering from inhalation injuries in a smuggling tunnel beneath the border between the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah and Egypt, medical sources said on Wednesday.
The sources said that nine Palestinians working in one of the tunnels were affected after inhaling a toxic. Four died from suffocation and five were in critical condition.
Rescue teams and ambulances were called to the scene and evacuated the victims, witnesses said.
They claimed that Egyptian security forces present at the borderline area with the Gaza Strip had spread a toxic material into the tunnels in a bid to prevent smuggling from Egypt into Gaza.
Israel has imposed a tight blockade on Gaza and closed down all the commercial crossing points after Hamas movement seized control of the Strip in June 2007.