A Palestinian demonstrator uses a sling to hurl back a tear gas canister fired by Israeli troops during a protest at the Israel-Gaza border fence.
(photo credit: REUTERS/IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA)
A Israeli Border Police officer from an undercover unit was lightly wounded by the shrapnel of an explosive charge set off during the continued weekly March of Return protests along the border separating Gaza and Israel on Friday, according to a statement released by the border police.
The officer was evacuated to the Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon.
The Health Ministry in Gaza said that at least 20 Palestinians were wounded by IDF troops who fired live bullets and rubber-coated steel rounds at protesters who the IDF said had been hurling stones, explosives devices and grenades at troops stationed along the fence. Demonstrators also burnt tires and launched incendiary balloons towards several locations.
The IDF also said soldiers arrested a Palestinian man who infiltrated into southern Israel from the northern Gaza Strip. He was taken by security forces for further questioning.
On Saturday, Palestinians reported that several youths breached the security fence in the central Gaza Strip near the al-Bureij refugee camp in an attempt to plant explosive devices. There were no reported injuries or casualties.
Also on Saturday, Palestinian Maan News reported that IDF forces opened fire towards Palestinian fishing boats off the coast of Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip. There were also no reported injuries.
Some 11,000 protesters once again confronted IDF forces throughout several locations along the Gaza Strip on Friday during the weekly protest.
Palestinians have been staging weekly protests since last March at the border, in an enclave controlled by the Islamist militant group Hamas. The enclave's health ministry says that more than 220 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli troops at the protests. One Israeli soldier has died.
Last month a report by Medicine Sans Frontier found that a total of 6,174 Palestinians have been injured by live bullets fired by IDF troops over the past 10 months since the beginning of the riots.
According to Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem, 254 Palestinians have been killed in the Gaza Strip over this time.
Israel says it has no choice but to use deadly force at the protests to defend the frontier from militants trying to destroy the barrier and infiltrate.
Last week, the Palestinian Ministry of Health reported 14-year-old Hasan lyad Abd al-Fattah Shalabi and Hamza Muhammad Rushdi Ishtaiwi a 17-year-old were killed by IDF sniper fire
during the clashes in the Gaza Strip. Shalabi was shot east to the city of Khan Yunis, which is in the southern region of the Strip.Yediot Aharonot
reported several sources in Gaza stated that the 14-year-old boy killed by a bullet to the chest in the protests was a relative of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh - allegedly his sister's grandson.
Ismail Haniyeh is a senior Hamas official and serves as the political chief of the designated terrorist organization. Haniyeh was elected prime minister of Hamas in the 2006 elections and his government served the Gaza Strip until 2014 when he and his cabinet resigned the position to new leadership.
Gaza is home to 2 million Palestinians, nearly all of them the stateless descendants of people who fled or were driven out of Israel on its founding in 1948.
Israel and Egypt imposed a security blockade on the enclave after Hamas seized control of it in 2007, which the World Bank says has reduced the local economy to a state of collapse. Israel has fought three wars against Hamas in the past decade.
Palestinians say the weekly protests are led by civil society groups demanding an easing of the blockade and recognition of their right to return to their ancestral homes in Israel. Israel says militants use the demonstrations to threaten the border and provoke violence.
Anna Ahronheim and Reuters contributed to this report.
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