206 Gazans said injured in weekly border clashes
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206 Gazans said injured in weekly border clashes

Two grenades thrown at troops along security fence; incendiary devices flown into Israel from Strip spark 10 fires

Palestinians took part in clashes on Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip for a thirteenth consecutive week Friday, with the Hamas-run health ministry reporting 206 injured.

The army said two grenades was thrown during the clashes toward Israeli troops at the border fence near Kibbutz Nahal Oz. No soldiers were injured.

Reports put turnout at Friday’s violent protests at around 1,000 people, a steep drop from participation at the height of the rallies and riots, when tens of thousands took part.

During the clashes, Palestinians launched incendiary devices toward Israel. The Walla news site reported 10 fires broke out in the Gaza periphery during the day as a result of the flaming balloons and kites. All the blazes were extinguished.

Since the start of the violent “March of Return” protests on March 30, more than 130 Palestinians have been killed and thousands wounded by Israeli military fire. Dozens of the fatalities were members of terror groups, Hamas and Islamic Jihad have acknowledged.

Israel says its troops are defending the border and has accused Hamas of trying to carry out terror attacks under the cover of the protests. The border protests peaked on May 14, when some 40,000 Gazans protested along the fence and violent clashes took place between troops and Palestinians. The protest came on the same day that the US opened its embassy in Jerusalem. Some 60 Gazans died in the May 14 violence; Hamas acknowledged that 50 of them were its members.

Palestinian protesters have hurled grenades, improvised explosives and rocks at soldiers, burned tires and flown hundreds of incendiary kites and balloons into Israeli territory, sparking multiple fires.

In recent days, the military has attempted to force Hamas to rein in the aerial arsonists by carrying out airstrikes on the organization’s positions in response to kite and balloon attacks.

An explosion is seen in Gaza City after an airstrike by Israeli forces on June 18, 2018. (AFP/Mahmud Hams)

Around midnight on Tuesday, Israeli jets bombed three Hamas positions in the Strip in response to numerous airborne arson attacks by Gazans earlier in the day.

Minutes later, Palestinians in the Strip launched the first of many rocket and mortar barrages at southern Israel, triggering sirens throughout the area and sending thousands into bomb shelters. Over the course of the next four hours, some 45 rockets and mortar shells were fired at southern Israel, with at least six exploding inside communities, causing damage but no injuries, including one that landed just outside a kindergarten.

In response, the Israeli military carried out two more rounds of airstrikes in Gaza, hitting a total of approximately 25 targets on a number of Hamas compounds.

AFP contributed to this report.

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