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.
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."In the past hour violent demonstrations have been taking place on the security fence, we have been monitoring the demonstrators and documenting some improvised explosive devices that were thrown by some of the demonstrators, injuring several of them in the process," The IDF's Spokesperson's Office commented in a released statement. The IDF is opening an investigation into the origins of the several improvised explosive devices that went off in the crowd of protesters. In addition, the IDF said that the "terrorist organization's" once again showed their willingness and disregard for public safety by using explosive devices during the protests.
The spokesman said soldiers used riot dispersal equipment and opened fired "in accordance with standard operating procedures."Earlier in the week, the IDF struck targets in the Gaza Strip in response to a rocket being launched at Israel an hour earlier on Wednesday night.According to the IDF spokesperson, an IDF tank attacked a Hamas position in the southern Gaza Strip. Earlier on Wednesday, rocket sirens went off in southern Israel after at least one rocket was launched at Israel from the Strip, landing in Israeli territory. Israeli residents in the area reported hearing explosions, but no casualties were reported.Unconfirmed reports said that other rockets were shot towards Israel, but landed within the Gaza Strip.Former Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman slammed the government on Twitter saying the "imaginary quiet" was broken once again and that Israel should act more determinedly against Hamas. "Confrontation is inevitable," Liberman wrote, adding that "there is no need to wait for human lives [lost] on our side. We must return to a policy of targeted assassinations and massive damage to terrorist infrastructure."
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.Hagay Hacohen, Jerusalem Post Staff and Reuters contributed to this report.