Israeli troops shot and wounded 30 Palestinian rioters during a large disturbance on the Israel-Gaza Strip border on Friday, Palestinian medics said.
At the demonstration, rioters hurled rocks and rolled burning tires near the border fence. Some of the rioters threw firebombs and an explosive device, according to the Israeli military.
An Israeli military spokesman said troops were being confronted by rioters and “responding with riot dispersal means while also firing in accordance with the rules of engagement.”
Thousands of Palestinians arrived at tented camps near the border on Friday as a protest dubbed “The Great March of Return” moved into its third week.
Since the start of the border unrest at the end of March, 30 Palestinian rioters have been killed.
On Friday, rioters waved Palestinian flags and burnt hundreds of tires and Israeli flags near the border fence after Friday prayers. At one camp east of Gaza City, rioters carried on their shoulders a coffin wrapped in an Israeli flag bearing the words “The End of Israel.”
Israel has declared a no-go zone close to the border fence, and deployed army sharpshooters along it.
Israel says it is doing what it must to defend its border, and to stop any of the rioters getting across the fence.
The protests are expected to culminate on May 15, when Palestinians will mark the 70th anniversary of what they call the “Nakba” or “Catastrophe” — i.e. the 1948 establishment of the State of Israel.
The Israeli government accuses Hamas, the Islamist terrorist movement rules Gaza, of having instigated the protests and of using them as cover to launch attacks.
“Israel will continue to defend its borders and its citizens. Your country would do the same,” an Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Twitter.
In recent days the Israeli military has displayed video footage in which the border fence is seen being cut and breached, with, Israel says, explosives planted there to target its troops.
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