Dozens of Palestinians were reportedly injured on Monday evening in fresh clashes with IDF troops along the Gaza Strip’s northern border with Israel.
The Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza said 51 people were injured by Israeli troops during the protests, including 10 from live fire, according to reports in Palestinian media.
Israel’s Channel 10 said 4,000 Gazans demonstrated along the northern border with Israel, with protesters burning tires and hurling rocks, Molotov cocktails, and firecrackers at soldiers.
The protests also saw a several-boat flotilla attempt to break Israel’s naval blockade off Gaza’s coast, in what has become a common occurrence in recent weeks. Palestinian media reported the IDF fired warning shots at the boats, prompting them to return to shore.
Earlier on Monday, firefighters worked to extinguish four blazes adjacent to Israeli communities, which were sparked by airborne incendiary devices launched by protesters inside the Gaza Strip.
The latest violence comes in the wake of heavy clashes on Friday in which seven Palestinians, including two teenagers, were reported killed.
The army released footage of the violent demonstrations, which it said were the worst in two months, depicting attempts to breach and sabotage the security fence. The IDF said over 100 improvised bombs and grenades were hurled at troops during the day’s clashes that it said drew some 20,000 Palestinians.
The protest was one of the largest and most violent in recent weeks and comes following the breakdown of indirect talks with Israel over a ceasefire and warnings that the terror group Hamas, which rules Gaza, was gearing up for another conflict.
The Hamas-run Health Ministry identified three of the protesters it said were shot dead as Nasser Mosabih, 12, Mohammed al-Houm, 14, and Iyad Al-Shaar, 18. The ministry said the other four were in their twenties, and that another 210 Palestinians were wounded by IDF troops, including 90 injured by live fire.
The riots have increased in recent weeks, going from a weekly event to near nightly protests since Hamas halted indirect talks with Israel aimed at a ceasefire. The humanitarian crisis in Gaza has also worsened and reconciliation talks with the Palestinian Authority have broken down.
Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip and actively calls for Israel’s destruction, has increased the pace of rioting and demonstrations against Israel, and created new units tasked with sustaining tensions along the border fence including during nighttime and early morning hours.
The Egyptian efforts to reconcile Hamas and Fatah have not borne fruit at this stage, and the possibility of a long-term ceasefire with Israel has apparently stalled, Thursday’s analysis by Times of Israel’s Avi Issacaharoff said. The economic situation has once again reached an unprecedented low, stoking fury among Gazans that is being directed against Israel, the PA, Hamas, and even Egypt.
On Friday, the Haaretz daily quoted Israeli security sources as saying that Hamas is preparing for war, bolstering its forces significantly over the past few weeks.
That assessment is not new, IDF sources told Haaretz, having warned repeatedly that the situation is more likely to escalate than to calm down. However, recently the army noted that the terror group appears to actively be readying itself for a limited conflict with Israel. It is only a question of when Hamas will decide to go to war, the paper said.
The surge of violence in Gaza began in March with a series of protests along the border that were dubbed the “March of Return.” The clashes have included regular rock and Molotov cocktail attacks on troops, as well as shooting and IED attacks aimed at IDF soldiers, and attempts to breach the border fence.
Gaza protesters have also launched incendiary kites and balloons into Israel, sparking fires that have destroyed forests, burned crops, and killed livestock. Over 7,000 acres of land have been burned, causing millions of shekels in damages, according to Israeli officials. Some balloons have carried improvised explosive devices.
At least 140 Palestinians were killed during the protests since late March, according to AP figures. Hamas has acknowledged that dozens of the fatalities were its members.
Agencies contributed to this report.