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Friday of protest in Gaza

14 April 2018
Friday of protest in Gaza

Health officials in Gaza said 363 people were injured by live ammunition and tear gas inhalation, although they did not provide a breakdown. Two journalists were wounded by gunfire, the Palestinian journalists' syndicate said, a week after a Gazan journalist was killed.

In northern Gaza, a large Israeli flag was burned.

Israeli forces have shot dead at least 31 Palestinians, including a journalist, and wounded many hundreds since the protests began, drawing worldwide criticism of the lethal tactics used against the protesters. Israel says the protests are a cynical ploy by Gaza's rulers Hamas to stage attacks, including using explosives, or to breach the border.

In all, 34 Palestinians have been killed in the past two weeks, 27 during protests. "Media reports suggest that on Friday, Israeli soldiers will once again be ordered by high command - in contravention of global law - to engage in sniper fire on Gaza residents who come within 300 meters of the border fence or engage in other non-life-threatening actions".

Smaller numbers approached the fence, throwing stones and rolling burning tires toward soldiers taking up positions on the other side.

Senior Hamas official Ismail Radwan said in an interview near the border that the demonstrations were created to send a message to the world. In additions, hundreds of Palestinians have been wounded by Israeli fire since March 30.

Today, most of the demonstrators assembled in five tent camps several hundred metres from the border fence.

The protests began as a plan to peacefully gather near the border, an idea that has since been supported by Hamas and other political parties. Since late March, 27 Palestinians were killed in protests.

At one camp east of Gaza City, youths carried on their shoulders a coffin wrapped in an Israeli flag bearing the words "The End of Israel".

An Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) official, speaking on condition of anonymity, refused to detail specific rules for engagement that admitted live sniper fire or say how many people had been shot. 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.

The Israeli military has argued that Gaza militant groups are trying to turn the border area into a combat zone, and said it has a right to defend its sovereign border.

Hanan Ahsrawi, a member of the Palestinian Labor Organization (PLO) Executive Committee, slammed Israel's use of live-fire in a statement last week.

Rights groups accuse Israel of wanton use of live fire.

The five ex-snipers in Friday's statement were identified by name.