Three Palestinians were killed during riots and clashes with Israeli security forces in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip Friday.
Two Palestinians died and dozens were injured in Gaza in border clashes with army forces, Hamas health officials in the territory said. Meanwhile a third Palestinian was killed in the West Bank during a riot near Beit Furik, south of Nablus.
The military confirmed that hundreds of Palestinians had rioted at several flashpoints along the Gaza border, hurling rocks and burning tires. The army said troops had responded with various means to quell the violence. It acknowledged using live fire towards the lower bodies of what it called central instigators.
One of the dead Gazans was identified as 24-year-old Yahya Farhat, a member of an elite Hamas unit
The main confrontation reportedly occurred near Khan Younis in the north of the Strip. According to reports, some protesters had crossed the border fence into Israel, leading troops to fire at them. Tear gas canisters were also used against the crowds.
Other clashes were reported in the north and center of the Strip. Palestinian sources said 98 people were injured, some of them by live bullets.
The army said it declared the area around Kibbutz Nahal Oz in the central Strip a closed military zone after protesters breached the border fence in the area.
Rioting was reported throughout the West Bank on Friday, including violent clashes in Ramallah, Jenin and Bethlehem.
A military patrol came under fire by gunmen near Ramallah, which caused damage to their vehicle. The soldiers were unharmed. Forces were searching the area for the shooters.
In recent days violent rioting in the West Bank and East Jerusalem has spread to Gaza as well, and clashes along the border resulting in Palestinian casualties have become frequent.
Gaza’s Hamas rulers have called for a “Day of Rage” on Friday, urging riots and attacks against Israelis throughout the Palestinian territories after noon prayers. Demonstrations were planned to protest the killing of Palestinians in clashes and stabbing attacks against Israelis, and the alleged harm to the status quo on the Temple Mount — a charge vehemently denied by Israel.
The Palestinians have claimed that Israel plans to change the status quo at the site, which is holy to Jews and Muslims but where Jews are allowed to visit but not pray. Israel has repeatedly denied the accusation, which has been a key factor in the ongoing violence.
AFP and Avi Issacharoff contributed to this report.