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Wheelchair-bound activist killed by Israeli forces becomes symbol of Palestinian protest

Disabled Palestinian activist Ibrahim Abu Thuraya was killed by Israeli forces on Friday in Gaza, where he was protesting against Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

world Updated: Dec 18, 2017 10:47 IST
Israel Palestine,Palestine protests,Jerusalem
Mourners carry the body of Palestinian wheelchair-bound protestor, Ibrahim Abu Thuraya, who was killed during clashes with Israeli troops on Friday, during his funeral in Gaza City December 16, 2017. REUTERS/Suhaib Salem(REUTERS)

Disabled Palestinian activist Ibrahim Abu Thuraya, who was killed by Israeli forces on Friday in Gaza, has become the symbol of Palestinian anger and protests.

Thuraya, who lost his legs in an Israeli airstrike in 2008, was one of four Palestinians to die in clashes with Israeli security forces on Friday in Gaza and the West Bank. Palestinians were protesting against Donald Trump’s controversial announcement that the US will recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Thuraya’s death came on the bloodiest day of the protests yet, which show no signs of abating. Hundreds attended Thuraya’s funeral on Saturday, as his body was carried on a stretcher through Gaza City, reported Haaretz.

A married father of three, Thuraya was a fisherman before he lost his legs. He made a living washing cars and despite his disability, was a regular at protests.

Photographs and video footage from Friday’s protest show that Thuraya and other protestors gathered at the eastern border fence. Abu Thuraya had been pushed to the fence in his wheelchair, before leaving the chair and attempting to crawl further forward, before he was shot dead.

Two days before his death, he told a video interviewer that he had been protesting against the US decision. “This land is our land. We are not going to give up. America has to withdraw the declaration it has made,” he said.

The Israeli military said it had fired “selectively towards main instigators” of the protest in which Abu Thuraya was reportedly hit, and that it was investigating the circumstances of his death.

The Israeli military said about 3,500 Palestinians had demonstrated near the Gaza border fence on Friday.

“During the violent riots IDF [Israel Defence Force] soldiers fired selectively towards main instigators,” it said in a statement.

The Palestinian health ministry confirmed in a statement that Abu Thuraya and Yasser Sokhar, 31, were shot in the head in Gaza during clashes with Israeli soldiers.

First Published: Dec 18, 2017 10:46 IST