Gaza Border (Reuters) – Dozens of Palestinians demonstrating on the border with Gaza were injured on Friday by Israeli shootings and tear gas when the last round of protests brought several thousand participants to the border.
The protests were launched on March 30 to demand the right of return of Palestinian refugees and their descendants to family land or homes lost to Israel during its founding in a 1948 war.
Protests along the border peaked on May 14 when medical sources from Gaza said at least 60 Palestinians had been killed by Israeli gunfire. Violence has weakened, but there are still sporadic relapses.
Since the beginning of the border protests, 113 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire.
Most participants on Friday kept their distance and stayed about 800 meters from the fence. However, dozens of young people advanced to about 300 meters away and burned tires at a protest site. East of Gaza City, some youths came directly to the fence and tried to pull them apart.
Israeli troops fired tear gas and ammunition , Soldiers were also firing at kites with flaming tails to try to bring them down before they landed on Israeli farmland and set fire to grain.
Gaza Ministry of Health officials said at least 109 protesters had been injured. Medics said at least 10 were injured through live rounds.
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh and the Gaza leader of the group, Yehya Al-Sinwar, joined separate protest camps that garnered applause from the crowds gathered.
"The marches of return are not over yet, they may be smaller, but we continue," said Ali, a participant in a protest east of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip covered his face with his T-shirt.
Protesters scattered as the dawn fell to prepare to break their day fast during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Gaza has been under the control of the Islamist group Hamas since 2007. Israel and Egypt, citing security issues, are de facto blocking the Gaza Strip, which has brought its economy into collapse.
Israel blamed Hamas for provoking the violence.
"They are pushing civilians – women, children – into the line of fire to make sacrifices, we are trying to minimize losses, they are trying to make losses to put pressure on Israel, which is horrible," said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told CBS News last week.
Salah al-Bardaweel, a Hamas official in Gaza, told a Palestinian television station that the majority of Hamas members killed on May 14 were.
Reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi, Letter by Ori Lewis