Palestinian journalist shot in Gaza was cleared for United States grant

Video appears to show cheers as Israeli sniper shoots Palestinian

Israel's defense minister said Tuesday that a Palestinian journalist who was shot dead by Israeli troops on the Israeli-Gaza border was a Hamas operative, although the media production company he founded had recently been vetted for a USA government grant.

The world "should wait for our great move", said a top Hamas leader, speaking to Palestinian protestors during violent clashes with Israeli forces along the Gaza border, "when we breach the borders and pray at al Aqsa".

Murtaja was about 300 yards away from the Israeli border fence filming Palestinians burning tires when Israeli soldiers shot him, said Palestinian photographer Rushdi Serraj, who worked with Murtaja and was with him when he was shot.

The army said the video seemed to show an incident that happened "a number of months ago" and pledged that it "will be thoroughly investigated".

The State Department official said she could not provide further details on the vetting process for USAID grants or say whether recipients would be checked against Israeli blacklists. The Palestinians protesting at the fence are asking for an end to the decade-long siege of the tiny coastal strip, and the right of return for Palestinian refugees.

The Palestinian casualties have prompted worldwide criticism of Israel.

Yaser Murtaja was a cameraman for Palestinian Ain Media, and was wearing a vest marked "press" when he was fatally shot by Israel when he was near the Gaza border last Friday.

Ahmad Tibi, a politician from the Joint Arab List party in Israel's Knesset, said on Facebook: "The crime and the evidence".

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At least 32 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed by Israeli forces since March 30.

Israel has said that Hamas is attempting to use the cloak of peaceful protests to launch terrorist attacks, pointing to incidents of violence along the border, including what it describes as attempts to plant explosives and one shooting incident.

Even as other excited soldiers can be heard confirming with each other if the kill was captured on video so they could watch it, a large group of Palestinians can be seen running towards the fallen man and start carrying his body away.

The footage emerged Monday appearing to demonstrate a soldier capturing at a Palestinian near the Gaza fence along with the other troops are heard cheering when he falls.

As global calls mount to investigate the violence, Israel has named several of those killed as being affiliated with Hamas' military wing.

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, however, argues the gunfire was not justified.

On Wednesday, Tamer Abu Daqqa told reporters that he was shot while trying to aid other Palestinians pinned down by Israeli sniper fire.

The Palestinian NGO called for an "immediate and impartial investigation" into Anbar's death and for the "international community to compel Israel to respect worldwide law and humanitarian law".



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