Palestinian killed by Israel fire ahead of border protests: Gaza ministry

Some protesters have broken away from the main body of demonstrators to approach the border fence and throw stones and petrol bombs at Israeli soldiers on the other side (AFP Photo/Jack GUEZ)

Gaza City (Palestinian Territories) (AFP) - A Palestinian was killed by Israeli fire on the Gaza border early Saturday, the territory's health ministry said, hours ahead of planned mass protests.

The ministry said Mohammed Saad, 20, died after being hit in the head with shrapnel caused by Israeli army fire east of Gaza City.

Protesters at the site said he had been taking part in an overnight rally ahead of the main demonstration scheduled for Saturday afternoon.

They said he was more than 100 metres (yards) from the heavily-fortified border fence when he was hit and had been on crutches due to a previous injury.

An Israeli army spokeswoman declined to comment.

Thousands are expected to demonstrate on Saturday afternoon at various points along the Gaza-Israel border, one year after the start of regular mass protests demanding the right of return for Palestinian refugees to homes now in Israel.

At least 259 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since the protests began, the vast majority along the border.

Two Israeli soldiers have also been killed.