Thousands of Gazans protest at border, Palestinian medic said killed

Source: Thousands of Gazans protest at border, Palestinian medic said killed | The Times of Israel

Rioters hurl rocks, burn tires, fly incendiary kites at weekly rally, despite announced ceasefire; 84 Gazans said injured; at least 6 fires reported in Israel due to airborne arson

Palestinian protesters at the Israel-Gaza border, in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip, on August 3, 2018. (AFP/Said Khatib)

Palestinian protesters at the Israel-Gaza border, in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip, on August 3, 2018. (AFP/Said Khatib)

Several thousand Palestinians were participating in weekly border protests along the Gaza fence Friday evening.

Some protesters were rioting near the fence, throwing rocks at Israeli soldiers and burning tires to create a smokescreen. Some flew incendiary kites into Israel. Israeli officials said at least six fires had broken out in Israeli territory since the morning due to airborne arson attacks.

The army said around 5,000 people had amassed at the border, and that it was responding to rioters in accordance with open-fire guidelines.

The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry reported that a Palestinian medic was killed by Israeli fire. It said 84 people were hurt, of which 25 were shot by Israeli troops.

Hamas had earlier said the so-called “March of Return” border demonstrations would continue unimpeded, despite a cessation of hostilities with Israel clinched the night before.

The announcement came after a 12-hour lull in fighting, following two days that saw the heaviest exchange of Palestinian rocket fire and reprisal Israeli airstrikes since the 2014 Gaza war.

Hamas said a ceasefire had been reached “on the basis of mutual calm” and went into effect at midnight. It said the deal was mediated by Egypt and other regional players. Israel denied there was a truce, but a senior Israeli official told Israel Radio that “quiet would be met with quiet.” There were no instances of violence reported along the border overnight.

For the past four months there have been near-weekly, violent protests along the Israel-Gaza border organized by Gaza’s Hamas rulers.

The terror group’s spokesman Hazem Qassim tweeted that demonstrators would continue to “break the siege” on the Gaza Strip.

“Every time the Israeli killing machine attempts to break our people’s will to continue its struggle and marches, it fails to do so,” he wrote. “Today our people will head to the ‘Marches of Return’ to challenge the Israeli war machine.”

“Our Palestinian people has a long-lasting, struggling soul,” the Hamas spokesperson wrote. “It will continue its resistance in all of its forms until it gains its freedom, independence and right to a dignified life.”

Over the past four months the “March of Return” protests have led to deadly clashes which saw Israeli security forces facing gunfire, grenades, Molotov cocktails, and efforts — sometimes successful — to damage or cross the border fence.

At least 160 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since the weekly protests began, the Hamas ministry says. Hamas has acknowledged that dozens of those killed were its members.

One Israeli soldier was shot dead by a Palestinian sniper.

In addition to the border clashes, southern Israel has experienced hundreds of fires as a result of incendiary kites and balloons flown over the border from Gaza. Over 7,000 acres of land have been burned, causing millions of shekels in damages, according to Israeli officials.

Adam Rasgon contributed to this report.

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