Enforcer … a Hamas police officer prevents young Palestinians from approaching the Israeli-Gaza border fence in Khan Younis. Photo: AP
ISRAELI troops have killed a Palestinian man and wounded at least 13 others on the Gaza Strip's border with Israel as each side accused the other of violating the ceasefire that took effect on Wednesday.
The shooting on Friday was the first flare-up of violence since the Egyptian-brokered truce ended eight days of Israeli bombardment of Gaza and Palestinian rocket attacks against Israel.
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-metre-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.
Anwar Abdel Hadi Qdeih, 20, was killed on the Gaza side when Israeli forces opened fire on a few dozen mostly young men as they approached the first of two fences on Friday morning, hospital officials and witnesses in Khan Younis said.
Hamas, the Islamist group that governs Gaza, denounced the shooting. But took the unusual step of escorting residents out of the buffer zone, after consulting the ceasefire's Egyptian mediators, Reuters reported.
The Israeli military said hundreds of Palestinians had attempted to breach the border fence, 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 border zone restrictions had been lifted.
''People were saying it's OK 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 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.
On Friday many of the Palestinians who flocked to the border fence were farmers who felt they had long been cut off from arable land.
Both Israeli and Gazan officials said on Friday they remained committed to the ceasefire, but did not disclose whether or when negotiations on security procedures along the border would be held.
The Washington Post