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Gaza ministry says Palestinian minor killed by Egypt border guards

The Egyptian army says it arrested three Palestinians attempting to enter Sinai illegally

Ahram Online , Saturday 3 Jan 2015
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Egypt's army manning the borders with the Gaza strip (Photo: Reuters)
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Gaza's health ministry confirmed Saturday the death of a Palestinian minor who attempted to cross illegally on Friday from the Gaza Strip to Egypt, MENA reported.

Seventeen-year old Zaki El-Hobi was shot in the back and through the heart.

Egypt's army spokesman released a statement Saturday saying security forces successfully aborted an attempt at illegal entry by a number of Palestinians.

The statement said three Palestinians were arrested. There was no mention of a shooting.

An Egyptian security source told MENA that a total of six youth attempted to climb the wall separating the Gaza Strip from Egyptian territory for an unknown reason. However, Egyptian police sources told Reuters the arrested youth said they came for cigarettes to sell back in the besieged Gaza Strip.

Smuggling goods into Gaza has usually taken place through underground tunnels. But Egypt destroyed at least 1,800 tunnels in fear of weapons smuggling into Sinai, where the Egyptian armed forces are battling a militant insurgency.  

Meanwhile, Gaza's interior ministry condemned the incident.

"We consider it a grave development and excessive use of force, not in line with neighboring relationships between brothers," Gaza's interior ministry spokesman Eyad El-Bezm said in a statement.

This is the first incident where a Palestinian is shot dead at the border since Egypt started establishing a buffer zone to help fight a militant insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula.

A state of emergency was declared in the border governorate of North Sinai in late October 2014, following a major militant attack near the town of Sheikh Zuweid where at least 30 army personnel were killed and a few dozen injured.

The October attack led the armed forces to announce the two-phased creation of a buffer zone in an effort to combat rising militancy in the strategic peninsula, a hotbed for jihadists.

The attack was later claimed by Ansar Beit El-Maqdis, a group that has pledged loyalty to the Islamic State.

The army has faced jihadists in Sinai for almost a decade, but the situation intensified in the past year and a half and expanded into Cairo and the Nile Delta, killing hundreds of army and police personnel. Civilians too have been caught up in the violence.

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