JERUSALEM (JTA) — Palestinian demonstrations on the Gaza border to mark the anniversary of Israel’s founding turned into riots in which dozens were injured in clashes with Israeli troops.
Some 10,000 Palestinians marched on the border on Wednesday afternoon for Nakba Day, which takes place each year on May 15, the day on the Gregorian calendar on which Israel was created. Nakba means “catastrophe.”
The Israel Defense Forces said that some of demonstrators threw burning tires and rocks at troops. Some protesters launched incendiary devices attached to balloons that started at least nine fires in southern Israel, according to the IDF.
The Health Ministry in Gaza said that at least 47 protesters were “shot and injured” by early Wednesday evening, the Palestinian Maan news agency reported. Other reports said 60 were injured, with claims that Israel used live fire on the protesters.
A senior Hamas official warned Israel in addressing the protesters at the Gaza border.
“The day of your slaughter, extermination and demise is near,” Fathi Hamad said. “All of you should look for a place to stay … in hell, the sea, the ocean or the Bermuda Triangle. There is no place for all of you in Palestine. There is no place for you in the land of Jerusalem. There is no place for you in the Al-Aqsa mosque, Jaffa, Haifa, Acre or any place.”
Hundreds also marched in the West Bank in Ramallah, the capital of the Palestinian Authority, leaving from the grave of the late Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat and marching to a rally in which speakers called for the return of Palestinians to their homes inside Israel.
The annual Nakba Day observance was hijacked by the organizers of the Great March of Return, which was launched a year ago and includes weekly border protests.