Saturday 17 November 2018

Four Palestinian protesters killed and more than 600 injured during Gaza demonstrations

A wounded Palestinian demonstrator, Haitham Abu Sabla, 23, is hit in the face with a tear gas canister fired by Israeli troops during a protest marking al-Quds Day, (Jerusalem Day), at the Israel-Gaza border in the southern Gaza Strip June 8, 2018. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa
A wounded Palestinian demonstrator, Haitham Abu Sabla, 23, is hit in the face with a tear gas canister fired by Israeli troops during a protest marking al-Quds Day, (Jerusalem Day), at the Israel-Gaza border in the southern Gaza Strip June 8, 2018. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Four Palestinian protesters have been killed and more than 600 others injured as Israeli forces fired live rounds and tear gas during demonstrations along the Gaza border.

More than 100 of the wounded, including a photographer for the French news agency Agence Press France, were hit by live fire, Gaza health officials said.

Demonstrators burned tyres, threw stones and flew flaming kites in the latest in a series of mass protests against a decade-old blockade of Gaza by Israel and Egypt.

Israel said Gaza's Hamas leaders are using the protests as cover to carry out attacks, and militants opened fire and struck an Israeli military post but no injuries were reported.

The march coincided with the annual Jerusalem Day, instituted by Iran to protest against Israeli rule of the holy city. Israel and Iran have been arch-enemies since Tehran's 1979 Islamic Revolution.

In the capitals of Iran and Iraq, thousands of Shiite Muslims marked Jerusalem Day with protests, with some chanting "Death to Israel" or burning Israeli flags and effigies of President Donald Trump.

Since the near-weekly protests began on March 30, more than 120 Palestinians have been killed and over 3,800 wounded by Israeli army fire. The overwhelming majority of the dead and wounded have been unarmed, according to Gaza health officials.

Among the dead Friday was 15-year-old Haitham al-Jamal. His family said he was taking part in a protest in Rafah, in southern Gaza, when he was shot. A total of 12 children under 16 have been killed in the protests.

Agence France Press said one of its photographers, Mohammed Abed al-Baba, was wounded at a mass rally after Israeli forces opened fire. AFP said Mr al-Baba was wearing a press vest and helmet about 200 yards from the border when hurt.

It said he was wounded below the knee while trying to take a photo of a wounded protester after Israeli troops opened fire. The photographer's injury was not life-threatening, but he was to undergo surgery.

After Muslim prayers at noon on Friday, thousands of Gaza residents streamed toward five protest tent camps that were erected more than two months ago close to the border fence.

In a camp east of Gaza City, activists burned tyres, releasing black smoke. Others threw stones or flew kites with burning rags attached, aiming to send them over the border and set Israeli fields on fire.

At one point, seven activists in black-and-white striped shirts meant to resemble concentration camp uniforms from the Second World War approached the fence.

Activist Ahmed Abu Artima said: "We want to remind the world that the Israeli occupation is committing the same massacres that the Nazis committed."

The mass protests have been aimed at a border blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt in 2007, after the Islamic militant group Hamas overran the territory.

The marchers have also pressed demands for a "right of return" for descendants of Palestinian refugees to ancestral homes in what is now Israel.

More than 700,000 Palestinians were expelled or fled in the 1948 war over Israel's creation. Two thirds of Gaza's two million residents are descendants of refugees.

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