First Published: 2017-12-16

Palestinian activist killed in Gaza protests
Ibrahim Abu Thurayeh, who lost his legs in Israeli helicopter attack in 2008, shot in head by Israeli sniper during protests along Gaza border.
Middle East Online

Ibrahim Abu Thurayeh waves Palestinian flag during protest against the blockade on Gaza, May 19, 2017.

GAZA CITY - Since Ibrahim Abu Thurayeh lost his legs in an Israeli attack a decade ago, he and his wheelchair have been a regular feature at protests along Gaza's border with Israel.

On Friday, he became one of four Palestinians to be killed in a day of protest against a US decision to move its Israeli embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Pictures of Abu Thurayeh at protests along the border were being circulated widely among Palestinians Friday after it was confirmed he had been shot dead during clashes.

The unmarried 29-year-old had previously been a fisherman, but lived at home with his parents and had been without regular work since the 2008 incident in which he lost his legs.

That happened during an Israeli incursion east of the Al-Bureij refugee camp in central Gaza in April 2008.

Israel and Gaza's Islamist rulers Hamas have fought three wars since then.

"He was injured in 2008 by an Israeli helicopter that targeted him after he brought down the Israeli flag and raised the Palestinian flag along the border," his brother Samir said after his death was confirmed on Friday.

"It did not stop him from demonstrating for Jerusalem. He went alone every day to the border."

He has been photographed at multiple demonstrations in recent years.

Tens of thousands of Palestinians protested in Gaza on Friday over US President Donald Trump's controversial decision to move the American embassy to Jerusalem and recognise the city as Israel's capital.

Palestinians consider at least part of the city, which is under full Israeli control, as the capital of their future state and have been infuriated by the decision.

In video footage recorded early on Friday, Abu Thurayeh could be seen carrying the Palestinian flag and waving the victory sign at Israeli soldiers across the border.

"I want to go there," he says, referring to the other side of the border, as a number of young men surrounding him wave Palestinian flags and others throw stones towards the troops.

- 'Extremely violent riots' -

It is incredibly difficult for Palestinians from Gaza to get Israeli permits to visit Jerusalem.

"This land is our land, we will not give up. America has to withdraw its decision," Abu Thurayeh said in another video posted on social media.

A few hours before his death, despite having no legs he climbed an electricity pole to raise the Palestinian flag, eyewitnesses and journalists present said.

What happened after that remains unclear.

Several thousand Palestinians along the Gaza border threw stones at Israeli soldiers, with clashes lasting for several hours.

Two men were killed, including Abu Thurayeh.

The Palestinian health ministry in Gaza said he was shot in the head by a sniper.

The Israeli army declined to comment specifically on the incident on Friday evening, saying only that there were "extremely violent riots" throughout the day.

"Soldiers fired selectively towards main instigators," an army spokeswoman said.

Israel has maintained a blockade of Gaza for a decade, claiming that this is necessary to isolate the territory's Islamist Hamas rulers.

Critics say it amounts to collective punishment for the strip's two million residents, who suffer from electricity shortages and pollution.


Yemen Huthi political leader killed in coalition raid

Iran, Israel trade blame for surge in hostilities over Syria

HRW warns Egypt fight against IS threatens humanitarian crisis

Russia says no decision yet on delivery of S-300 missiles to Syria

Can Arab satellite TV catch up with social media?

Syria security chief refuses Lebanon court appearance

Air raid kills dozens at Yemen wedding

Algeria draws Europe’s ire by cutting imports, boosting trade with China

French MPs adopt controversial immigration bill

Qatar Airways ‘robust’ despite large losses

IS threatens to attack Iraqi polling station

Jordan sounds the alarm over rising online crimes

Yemen forces clash with jihadists in Taez

Paris attacks suspect gets 20 years over Brussels shootout

Jailed Egyptian photographer wins UN press freedom prize

14 Saddam-era officials still jailed in Iraq

Gaza death toll rises to 40 as Palestinian dies of wounds

HRW says African migrants face rape, torture in Yemen

Four British pilgrims killed in Saudi road crash

Iran vows to resume enrichment if US quits nuclear deal

UAE accuses Qatari jets of ‘chasing’ passenger flight

Israel rubbishes claims Mossad behind Malaysia assassination

Syrian refugees are not going home anytime soon

Resumption of direct flights from Moscow brings hope to Egypt’s tourism sector

Saudi finalises drone regulation after security alarm

Will Lebanon have more women MPs after May 6 poll?

Saudi shoots down ‘toy drone’

Mass grave discovered under Raqa football pitch

UN Security Council meets over Syria in Sweden

Turkish government rejects criticism of election campaign

Condemnation after Gaza teenager killed by Israeli soldiers

Syrian rebels agree to leave new area outside Damascus

Rouhani slams officials' 'vow of silence' in face of protests

Family accuses Israel of killing Palestinian in Malaysia

Natalie Portman says backed out of Israel prize over Netanyahu

Morocco, EU start talks on new fisheries deal

FIFA to return to Morocco to check hotels, stadiums

Turkey in shock after violent Istanbul derby

Iraq pays first war reparations to Kuwait since 2014

Fiery kites adopted as new tactic by Gaza protesters

Romanian president slams plan to move Israel embassy

Western strikes on Syria bring no change whatsoever

Trump criticises OPEC for high oil prices

Syria says rebels south of capital surrender

Market has capacity to absorb higher oil prices: Saudi minister