JERUSALEM, April 7 (Xinhua) -- The Israeli army on Saturday denied deliberately targeting a Palestinian journalist who was shot dead while covering mass protests on Friday near the border between the southern Gaza Strip and Israel.
The Israeli army has launched an investigation into the incident, said the army in a statement.
Palestinian journalist Yasser Murtaja was reportedly killed by gunshot from the Israeli soldiers. Hundreds of Palestinians, including Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh, attended the funeral of Murtaja in Gaza, Palestinian sources said.
At least nine Palestinians were killed by the Israeli troops and about 500 wounded in the second mass protest along the Gaza border on Friday. And the total deaths have risen to at least 31 killed by Israeli fire since last week, according to Palestinian sources.
"For weeks, we have been warning against coming close to the fence and calling on Gaza's residents not to obey the orders of the terror group Hamas and refrain from terror activities and other violent acts against Israel," said the Israeli army's statement.
"Despite this, since last Friday the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) have been dealing with tens of thousands of people approaching the fence, all instigated by Hamas," it added.
According to the Times of Israel, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said Saturday night "I don't know who is or isn't a photographer. Anyone who operates drones above IDF soldiers needs to understand he's putting himself in danger."
"We saw dozens of cases in which Hamas terrorists used ambulances, dressed up as Red Crescent workers, and dressed up as journalists," added Liberman.
It is reported that the Palestinian press association denounced the murder of Murtaja, and announced plans to contact the International Court of Justice in The Hague regarding the matter.