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Thousands mourn Palestinian man shot in Gaza

Dec. 21, 2013 at 5:55 PM

BEIT HANOUN, Gaza, Dec. 21 (UPI) -- Thousands of Palestinians gathered in the Gaza Strip Saturday to attend the funeral of a man shot and killed by Israeli soldiers the day before, officials said.

Odeh Jihad Hamad, 29, was shot in the head more than a mile into Palestinian territory by Israeli soldiers who said he was part of a group that damaged a security fence and lobbed a mortar into Israeli land, Palestinian news agency Ma'an reported.

The Israeli military said in a statement, "Palestinians caused damage to the northern security fence" and "fired a mortar shell" into Israel Friday, adding that they "rioted and hurled rocks at soldiers in the northern Gaza Strip, and neared the fence in an attempt to enter Israel."

Hamad's brother told Ma'an news agency they had nothing to do with the violence. Militant Islamist leaders urged funeral attendees to seek retribution for Hamad's death.

"The Israeli occupation is responsible the escalation of killings in Gaza and we have to confront these violations," said Khalid al-Basch, a prominent jihadist leader.

At least four other Palestinian men were shot and wounded in several border skirmishes Friday and Saturday, Ma'an reported. None of the injuries were thought to be life-threatening.

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