At least six Gazans were reported injured during renewed clashes between Israeli soldiers and protesters Monday evening along the Israel-Gaza border, after several dozen Palestinians crossed the border fence into Israel, the second such incident in recent days.
Israel Defense Forces soldiers fired at the group of some 20 protesters in an effort to push the Palestinians back toward the Hamas-controlled territory, the Walla news site reported.
The protesters sneaked into Israel adjacent to the al-Bureij refugee camp and emerged in the Eshkol Regional Council, in the center of the Strip, before the IDF arrived at the scene.
The clashes came days after at least nine Palestinians were killed and dozens wounded in clashes with IDF troops along the border, after 70 Gazans entered Israel from the Strip.
The IDF confirmed that “dozens” of Palestinians had broken through the border fence, and said that efforts to push the protesters back into Gaza were ongoing.
Earlier on Monday, the Hamas leaders of the Strip denied reports that they had issued a warning to Gaza residents banning them from approaching the border fence with Israel.
Up until last week, which saw the deadly border clashes along with several rocket attacks and retaliatory Israeli airstrikes, the Gaza Strip has been relatively calm, amid an upsurge in violence in Israel and the West Bank.
On Sunday, Hamas warned Israel against “foolishness” after the Israeli Air Force struck the Gaza Strip in response to rocket fire at southern communities. A woman and her two-year-old daughter were killed in that strike.
Analysts believe Hamas’s goal is to ignite the West Bank into a Palestinian uprising, or intifada, which will ultimately lead to the dismantling of the group’s rival, the Palestinian Authority.
Much of the recent flareup of violence has centered around Palestinian claims that Israel is seeking to change the decades-old status quo on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, a site holy to both Jews and Muslims. The site, which houses the al-Aqsa Mosque, is administered by the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf. Under rules set by Israel, Jews are allowed to visit but not to pray at the site. Israel has repeatedly denied accusations that it intends to make changes to the current rules, and says the accusations are incitement to violence.
Amid heightened fears that an intifada could erupt, Israel has recently deployed Iron Dome missile defense batteries in the southern cities of Beersheba, Ofakim, Sderot and Netivot.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.