Thousands at Gaza border, hundreds wounded

Clay Curtis
April 14, 2018

Friday marked the third large-scale protest near the border fence since late March.

Palestinian protesters chant slogans as they pull part of the fence that the Israeli Army placed, during a protest at the Gaza Strip's border with Israel, April 13, 2018.

The Israeli army responded with gunfire and riot-dispersal means, it said.

Protest organizers are attempting to build support for planned "Marches of Return" in mid-May, hoping to get one million demonstrators.

Rights groups say Israel's open-fire regulations are unlawful because soldiers can use potentially lethal force against unarmed protesters.

"We, a group of former combatants who were members of sniper teams, seek to express our feelings of distress regarding the recent incidents in the Gaza Strip", the letter said.

A Palestinian was killed and more than 200 others wounded during clashes with Israeli troops as thousands gathered in protest along the Gaza-Israel border yesterday, Gaza officials said.

Palestinians also sought to pull away barbed wire set up by Israeli forces to keep them away from the fence, an AFP journalist said.

The ministry says 203 of those hurt were treated at hospitals and the rest at field clinics.

Demonstrators - which numbered about 10,000 Friday - threw improvised explosives and firebombs at the Israeli army, which had erected numerous obstacles at the border.

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The majority of the fatalities occurred during the demonstrations, while 1,236 have suffered from bullet wounds, according to the Hamas-controlled ministry.

The Gaza Health Ministry said more than 500 protesters were injured, 122 of them by gunshots.

Several thousand people gathered Friday at a tent camp east of Gaza City. Crowds of mostly young men have moved closer, slinging stones, torching tyres and setting Israeli flags alight.

Israeli troops fired live bullets and tear gas.

Numerous injuries were the result of live ammunition and tear gas fired by Israeli soldiers, the ministry said.

Human rights advocates are calling for an arms embargo on Israel because Israeli snipers are shooting unarmed Palestinians in Gaza.

The "Great March of Return" protests started on the anniversary of Land Day on 30 March, escalating into bloody clashes with Israeli forces that had killed at least 33 Palestinians and injured hundreds before today's casualties.

Demonstrators are demanding that Palestinian refugees be given the "right of return" to their towns and villages in historical Palestine from which they were driven in 1948.

In two weeks, 34 Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire, including 27 during protests.

Israel has accused Hamas, which governs Gaza, of using the protests as a pretext for violence. Rights groups say military's open-fire orders are unlawful.

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