Slain Palestinian lecturer buried in Gaza

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Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman categorically denied on Thursday that Israel killed a Hamas-affiliated scientist who was gunned down last week in Malaysia. Hamas has accused Israel's Mossad spy agency of being behind the killing.

The Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) said it maintained its position that the Israeli Defence Force must withdraw from the Gaza Strip and bring to an end the "violent and destructive incursions into Palestinian territory".

Malaysian authorities said two men on a high-powered motorcycle fired at least 14 shots at Batash, an engineering lecturer, outside his Kuala Lumpur apartment building on Saturday, killing him on the spot.

Batash's body was flown to Egypt, accompanied by his wife and son, and then taken by road to Gaza for a reception attended by members of all political factions and relatives, followed by burial in the northern Gaza Strip. Hamas Politburo Chief Ismail Haniyeh said on the same day that the Islamist movement "holds Israel responsible" for his death.

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Earlier on Thursday in Gaza, hundreds of Palestinians took part in the funeral of a Gaza journalist who died after being shot by Israeli troops while covering a protest on April 13. Israel attempted to prevent Batsh's body from entering the Strip until Hamas agreed to return to Israel the bodies of two IDF soldiers, as well as two mentally ill Israeli citizens, but Egypt refused.

During the weekly demonstrations so far, 35 protesters, including two journalists, have been killed by Israeli live fire. He died Wednesday in an Israeli hospital near Tel Aviv. Thirty-nine Palestinians reportedly have been killed in rioting since the start of protests. The protesters are calling for a right of return of Palestinians refugees and their descendants to homes in what is now Israel.

"The actions of the Israeli armed forces present yet another obstacle to a permanent resolution to the conflict, which must come in the form of two states, Palestine and Israel, existing side-by-side and in peace", Sisulu said in a statement. Yet hypothetical situations - such as thousands of Palestinians crossing the fence into Israel - are not enough to justify prior permission to open lethal fire at demonstrators.

Hamas is designated by Israel and the West as a terrorist group.

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