Palestinians injured by Israeli gunfire in Gaza border protests

Dozens of Palestinians are injured by Israeli gunfire and tear gas as thousands protest in Gaza by burning tyres and firing slingshots at troops

  • Protests along the border reached a peak on May 14 when Gaza medical sources said at least 60 Palestinians were killed by Israeli gunfire 
  • To demand the right of return for Palestinian refugees and their descendants to family lands or homes lost to Israel during its founding in a 1948 war
  • Protesters dispersed as dusk fell to prepare to break their daytime fast during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. 

Dozens of Palestinians demonstrating at the Gaza border were injured by Israeli gunfire and tear gas on Friday, as the latest round of protests drew several thousand participants to the frontier.

Dubbed the March of Return, the protests were launched on March 30 to demand the right of return for Palestinian refugees and their descendants to family lands or homes lost to Israel during its founding in a 1948 war.

Protests along the border reached a peak on May 14 when Gaza medical sources said at least 60 Palestinians were killed by Israeli gunfire. The violence has tapered off since but there are still sporadic flare-ups.

A female demonstrator runs for cover during a protest where Palestinians demand the right to return to their homeland, at the Israel-Gaza border in the southern Gaza

A wounded demonstrator is evacuated during a protest where Palestinians demand the right to return to their homeland

Protests along the border reached a peak on May 14 when Gaza medical sources said at least 60 Palestinians were killed by Israeli gunfire 

Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh and the group’s Gaza leader, Yehya Al-Sinwar, joined separate protest encampments raising cheers from the assembled crowds

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    Since the border protests began, 113 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire, Gaza medical officials said.

    Most of the participants on Friday kept their distance and remained about 800 metres from the fence. Dozens of youths, however, advanced to around 300 meters distance and burned tyres at one protest spot. East of Gaza City some youths came right up to the fence and tried to pull it apart.

    Israeli troops fired tear gas and live rounds. Soldiers also fired at kites with flaming tails to try to bring them down before they landed in Israeli farmland and set crops alight.

    Gaza health ministry officials said at least 109 protesters were hurt. Medics said at least 10 were wounded by live rounds. Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh and the group’s Gaza leader, Yehya Al-Sinwar, joined separate protest encampments raising cheers from the assembled crowds.

    Since the border protests began, 113 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire, Gaza medical officials said

    Soldiers also fired at kites with flaming tails to try to bring them down before they landed in Israeli farmland and set crops alight

    Gaza has been controlled since 2007 by the Islamist group Hamas. Israel and Egypt, citing security concerns, maintain a de facto blockade on Gaza, which has reduced its economy to a state of collapse

    ‘The marches of return are not over. They may be smaller but we are continuing,’ said Ali, a participant who masked his face with his t-shirt at a protest east of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip.

    Protesters dispersed as dusk fell to prepare to break their daytime fast during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

    Gaza has been controlled since 2007 by the Islamist group Hamas. Israel and Egypt, citing security concerns, maintain a de facto blockade on Gaza, which has reduced its economy to a state of collapse.

    Israel has blamed Hamas for provoking the violence.

    ‘They’re pushing civilians ‒ women, children ‒ into the line of fire with a view of getting casualties. We try to minimize casualties. They’re trying to incur casualties in order to put pressure on Israel, which is horrible,’ Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told CBS News last week.

    Salah al-Bardaweel, a Hamas official in Gaza, told a Palestinian television channel that the majority of those killed on May 14 were Hamas members.

    Tear gas canisters seen being fired by Israeli troops. Protesters dispersed as dusk fell to prepare to break their daytime fast during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan

    Salah al-Bardaweel, a Hamas official in Gaza, told a Palestinian television channel that the majority of those killed on May 14 were Hamas members

    Israel says it’s defending its sovereign border, including nearby communities, and that soldiers only target instigators

    It accuses Hamas, a militant group sworn to Israel’s destruction, of trying to carry out attacks under the guise of the mass protests

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      Israel accuses Hamas, the Islamist movement that runs Gaza and with whom it has fought three wars since 2008, of seeking to use the weekly protests as a cover to carry out violence.

      No Israelis have been hurt and Palestinians say protesters are being shot while posing no danger to soldiers.

      The military has faced international criticism over its use of live fire, with the United Nations and European Union calling for an independent investigation rejected by Israel.

      Demonstrators are demanding the right to return to their homes seized by Israel in 1948, which Israel argues would effectively spell the end of their country.

      The protests are due to continue through May, when the US plans to move its embassy.

      The move has deeply angered the Palestinians, who see the Israeli-annexed eastern sector of the city as the capital of their future state.

      Hamas says the protests are aimed at breaking a crippling border blockade that was imposed by Israel and Egypt after the Islamic militant group assumed control of Gaza in 2007.

      Israel says it’s defending its sovereign border, including nearby communities, and that soldiers only target instigators.

      It accuses Hamas, a militant group sworn to Israel’s destruction, of trying to carry out attacks under the guise of the mass protests. 

      It has said that some of those protesting at the border over the past few weeks tried to damage the border fence or plant explosives along it. 

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