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Palestinians wounded at Gaza-Israel border protests

14 April 2018

Thousands of Palestinians, some burning Israeli flags and torching tires, staged a mass protest on Gaza's sealed border with Israel for a third consecutive Friday, as part of a pressure campaign to break a decade-old blockade of their territory.

Limited clashes between stone-throwing Palestinians and Israeli soldiers began in at least two places along the border, AFP reporters said, with larger protests expected after Friday Muslim prayers.

Islam Herzallah, 28, died in hospital after being shot by Israeli troops east of Gaza City, the Health Ministry said.

Israel's army alleged there were attempts to damage and breach the border fence, and that firebombs and "an explosive device" were thrown.

Protesters waved Palestinian flags - and others set fire to Israeli ones - while chanting pro-resistance slogans along the border fence.

An Israeli military spokesman said Friday its troops were "responding with riot dispersal means while also firing in accordance with the rules of engagement".

Footage distributed by the military showed an area of the fence made up of several layers of barbed wire coils.

Dozens of Israeli flags were being burned in Jabalia in northern Gaza and hundreds of Palestinian ones were held aloft.

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The debate over Israel's open-fire regulations has intensified with a rising number of dead and wounded since the first protests on March 30.

One of the protesters, Sumaya Abu Awad, attended with her three daughters and son: "I am from the village of Hiribya and it is my right to return to it", she told the news agency AFP.

"I am not afraid of dying on account of there's no life in Gaza already".

On Friday, most of the demonstrators assembled at five tent camps located several hundred meters (yards) from the border fence.

REUTERS/Mohammed SalemPalestinian demonstrators are seen during clashes with Israeli troops at a protest demanding the right to return to their homeland, at the Israel-Gaza border, east of Gaza City, April 13, 2018.

Palestinian organizers have called the series of protests the "Great March of Return" beginning on Land Day, March 30, and continuing until May 15, the 70th anniversary of the "Nakba" - or the "catastrophe" - when 750,000 Palestinians were forced out of their homes and off their land by Israeli forces in 1948.

Israel says it is doing what it must to defend its border, and to stop any of the protesters getting across the fence.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the European Union have called for an independent investigation into the violence.

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The health officials said that among those hurt Friday was a Gaza journalist who was in serious condition with a bullet wound in the abdomen.

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

The company Murtaja co-founded had been vetted for USA government funding, while an worldwide journalists federation said he was harassed and beaten by Hamas police in 2015.

Rights groups have strongly criticised Israeli forces whereas pointing to unverified motion pictures which have unfold on-line of Gazans displaying to be shot, along with one seeming to point a Palestinian targeted as he ran away from the fence whereas holding a tyre.

Organisers also again said they want the protest to be peaceful this week, but it is unclear to what extent they or even Hamas remain in control. One path toward lifting the blockade would be to have Hamas' political rival, West Bank-based Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, take over the Gaza government, but recent Egypt-led talks on such a deal appear to have run aground.

In a rare move, Egypt opened its crossing with Gaza on Thursday and it will remain open until Saturday.

Israeli media tales have talked about Egypt, thought-about considered one of exclusively two Arab worldwide places to have signed a peace treaty with the Jewish state, had been negotiating with Hamas to hunt to calm the catastrophe, nevertheless there was no affirmation.

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Palestinians wounded at Gaza-Israel border protests