Some 6,000 Palestinians gathered near the Gaza Strip’s border with Israel Friday to take part in weekly protests near the fence.
The Kan public broadcaster reported that some demonstrators broke through Hamas checkpoints set up to prevent mass rushes of protesters toward the border.
According to Hebrew-language media reports, rioters hurled rocks and explosive devices toward IDF troops stationed on the border. There were no reports of Israeli injuries.
The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry said 51 Palestinians were injured, 24 as a result of IDF fire.
— כאן חדשות (@kann_news) August 2, 2019
The IDF said one of the flags waved by protesters was attached to a swastika.
The Nazi Swastika flag, a symbol of murder and hatred, raised yet again during a Hamas riot in Gaza today.In the face of this hatred stand IDF soldiers, ready and determined to defend lsrael.
In addition, a fire started in the Simhoni Forest, close to the border community of Kfar Aza, was thought to have been ignited by incendiary balloons launched from the Strip.
Channel 13 news earlier reported that the IDF had bolstered its presence in the region surrounding the enclave and was prepared for “every possible scenario” after a Palestinian gunman injured three Israeli soldiers in a firefight before being killed a day earlier.
The gunman was identified as Hani Abu Salah, a member of the military wing of Hamas whose brother was killed in a clash with the IDF last May.
Abu Salah was armed with a rifle and grenades and wearing a Hamas uniform, according to the IDF. However, an army spokesperson said the military believes the attacker was acting alone and not on orders from Hamas.
The Israeli soldiers were taken to Soroka hospital in Beersheba with non-life-threatening injuries. One officer was receiving care for moderate injuries while two lightly wounded soldiers were released shortly after their arrival.
The flareup of violence broke several weeks of relative calm along the normally restive border.
The beginning of 2019 saw a dramatic increase in the level of violence along the Gaza border, with near nightly riots and airborne arson attacks, but the violence waned in recent weeks due to a de facto ceasefire agreement between Israel and the Gaza-ruling Hamas terror group.
Under the fragile ceasefire brokered by Egyptian and UN officials following a severe flareup in May, Israel is meant to ease aspects of its blockade on the coastal enclave in exchange for relative calm. Israel maintains that the blockade is necessary to prevent arms from entering Gaza that could be used in attacks against it.
On Wednesday, Israel wrapped up a four-day drill meant to prepare for the possibility of war with fighters based in the Palestinian enclave.