Israeli soldiers killed a Palestinian who approached the Gaza Strip border on Wednesday, witnesses and hospital officials said.
They said the 20-year-old was shot as he and scores of other protesters planted Palestinian flags in the ground near the border fence, east of Gaza City.
It was the first death at such demonstrations, weekly events that organisers hope will draw attention to Israel's imposing a ban to Palestinians on coming within 300 metres (yards) of the border. Those that do risk being shot on sight.
A military spokeswoman said troops had fired shots when the protesters threw rocks and lit a fire that threatened to damage the fence.
Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005 following 38 years of occupation. After Hamas Islamists took over Gaza in 2007 after a general election win in 2006, Israel declared it an enemy entity and, imposed a heavy blockade on its borders becaming Gaza an enclave.
"These are non-violent demonstrations against the Israeli imposition of the buffer zone," a foreign pro-Palestinian activist who gave her name as Eva told Reuters Television at the protest site. "The Israelis say they can shoot anyone in this area. But it annexes Palestinian farmland. It annexes land where Palestinians live and work."
The Gaza border demonstrations began last month and are modelled on similar protests against land seizures for a barrier Israel is erecting in the West Bank, where Palestinians have also been fighting for a state.
ReutersLast Mod: 29 Nisan 2010, 09:21