Dozens injured in fresh protests along Gaza-Israel border

  • Dozens injured in fresh protests along Gaza-Israel border

Dozens injured in fresh protests along Gaza-Israel border

Clashes erupted along the Gaza-Israel border as thousands of protesters gathered for a third consecutive Friday, AFP journalists said.

While demonstrators have gathered at tent encampments along the border every day since the protests began, higher numbers have protested on Fridays. Smaller groups moved closer to the fence, burning Israeli flags, throwing stones and torching tires.

Two Gazans appeared to have been wounded by Israeli fire as protesters burned tires near the fence east of Gaza City.

An Israeli military spokesman said troops were being confronted by rioters and "responding with riot dispersal means while also firing in accordance with the rules of engagement".

Israel's military alleged that the soldier opened fire after rioting by Palestinians and warnings from soldiers.

Smaller groups moved closer to the fence, throwing stones, torching tires and burning large Israeli flags, US flags, as well as posters of Israel's prime minister and defense minister.

At the entrance, organizers had laid a large Israeli flag on the ground for protesters to step on.

The largest crowds were expected in the afternoon after the main weekly Muslim prayers. The previous week there were an estimated 30,000 protesters.

The Palestinian authorities reported that 33 people have been martyred since the mass demonstration against Israeli occupation kicked off of March 30.

Israel confirmed the strikes, saying they were retaliation for gun fire.

Israel claimed he was a paid member of Hamas, nevertheless produced no proof.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, the European Union and others have called for an independent investigation into the killings, including that of Palestinian journalist Yasser Murtaja, who was shot while wearing a vest clearly marked "Press".

In the camp, 37-year-old construction worker Omar Hamada said he is protesting to draw world attention to Gaza and get the border reopened.

Gaza has been under an Israeli blockade for more than 10 years, while its border with Egypt has also been largely closed in recent years.

The march is calling for the right of return - meaning Palestinian refugees being allowed to go back to the land they fled or were expelled from during the 1948 war surrounding Israel's creation.

Thousands of Gazans are taking part in protests in the besieged enclave, where nearly 1.3 million of the small territory's two million inhabitants are refugees, to demand their right to return to their pre-1948 homes.

The Palestinian who was killed was identified as Mohammad Hjeila, 31.

In a unusual switch, Egypt opened its crossing with Gaza on Thursday and it will keep open until Saturday.

The Israeli rights group B'Tselem said Friday that open-fire policy must not be dictated by worst case scenarios, such as a feared mass breach of the border.

Tensions have flared since the beginning of the protests.

"During our ongoing activities, the participants are asked to raise and wave Palestinian flags along with the border between eastern Gaza Strip and Israel in five different areas", he said.