10,000 Palestinians protest along Gaza border, 33 wounded

Demonstrations come as Israel allows in a second shipment of cash from Qatar; Hamas keeping most demonstrators away from fence

Palestinian youths sit next to a Palestinian flag by the barbed-wire fence along the border with Israel east of Gaza City during a border demonstration on December 7, 2018. (Said Khatib/AFP)
Palestinian youths sit next to a Palestinian flag by the barbed-wire fence along the border with Israel east of Gaza City during a border demonstration on December 7, 2018. (Said Khatib/AFP)

Some 10,000 Palestinians protested along the Gaza border fence on Friday, with some burning tires and throwing rocks and firebombs at soldiers who responded with tear gas and occasional live fire.

The Hamas-run Gaza heath ministry said 33 people were wounded, but it was not immediately clear how many were hit by live fire.

This was the fourth week in a row that Hamas security forces kept most demonstrators away from the fence following a ceasefire with Israel after a major flareup last month. The IDF said Palestinians had not managed to breach the border fence and there were no injuries reported among Israeli forces.

The demonstrations came as Israel allows in a second shipment of cash from Qatar. Hundreds of employees of Hamas government departments waited in long lines outside banks in the Gaza Strip from the early hours Friday.

A Palestinian Hamas government employee signs to receive 50 percent of her long-overdue salary donated by Qatar, while others wait in the queue, at the main Gaza Post Office, in Gaza City, Friday, Dec. 7, 2018. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

The Hamas-run finance ministry announced in a statement to local media that the money would be distributed over the next two days, with employees receiving 50 percent of their salaries.

Since March, Palestinians have been holding weekly “March of Return” protests on the border, which Israel has accused Gaza’s Hamas rulers of using to carry out attacks on troops and attempt to breach the security fence. Hamas, an Islamist terror group, seeks to destroy Israel.

Israel has demanded an end to the violent demonstrations along the border in any ceasefire agreement.

The border protests come weeks after Hamas and Palestinian terror groups in Gaza engaged in the heaviest battle with Israel since the 2014 war.

After an Israeli special forces operation in Gaza was exposed, and an Israeli soldier and seven Hamas gunmen were killed in the ensuing firefight, some 500 rockets and mortar shells were fired at southern Israel over the course of November 12-13 — more than twice the rate at which they were launched during the 2014 conflict.

The Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted over 100 of them. Most of the rest landed in open fields, but dozens landed inside Israeli cities and towns, killing one person, injuring dozens and causing significant property damage.

Iron Dome missiles intercept rockets from Gaza seen in the sky in Southern Israel, on November 12, 2018. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

In response, the Israeli military said it targeted approximately 160 sites in the Gaza Strip connected to the Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror groups, including four facilities that the army designated as “key strategic assets.”

The fighting ended on Tuesday, November 13, after a Hamas-announced ceasefire took effect, though this was not officially confirmed by Israel.

Defense minister Avigdor Liberman resigned in protest at the ceasefire, having pushed for a harsher Israeli response to the Hamas rocket attacks, reducing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s governing coalition to just 61 of the 120 Knesset seats. Education Minister Naftali Bennett threatened to quit and bolt the coalition with his Jewish Home party if he was not appointed to replace Liberman, but he subsequently withdrew his ultimatum.

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