For the second night in a row, hundreds of Palestinians demonstrated on the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel on Sunday, burning tires and hurling explosive devices toward the fence.
The Israel Defense Forces, which deployed additional troops along the border ahead of the protests, responded with some live fire in addition to less-lethal riot dispersal weapons, like tear gas and stun grenades.
Eighteen Palestinians were said to be injured during the demonstration, including one moderately from live rounds. The rest were lightly hurt from tear gas inhalation, according to the Hamas-run health ministry in the Gaza Strip.
The “night confusion units” behind the border riots do not officially tie themselves to Hamas, though their activities could not take place without the approval of the terror group that rules the Strip.
The groups, which are affiliated with various terror factions, have said that the nightly riots on the border will continue until at least Thursday, starting at around 8 p.m. each evening.
A group linked to the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) said on Sunday that the violent border “activities will continue and escalate until the occupation stops its aggression and lifts its siege on our people.”
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In the past, Gazans involved in such activities have burned tires, hurled explosive devices, and played fake rocket alert noises in an attempt to confuse Israeli residents living near the border and harass soldiers guarding the border.
During Saturday’s protests, 11 Palestinians were hurt by live fire and other riot control measures used by the IDF during the clashes, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.
In response to Saturday’s riots, as well as two fires sparked in southern Israel by balloons carrying incendiary devices launched from Gaza, the IDF overnight Saturday-Sunday struck a Hamas military compound used for training and weapon production, and the opening of a “terror tunnel.”
The clashes came despite Israel on Thursday easing some of its restrictions on trade and movement, allowing additional goods and materials to enter Gaza. It also allowed another 1,000 Gazan businessmen to leave through the Erez Crossing with Israel to travel to the West Bank.
Palestinians set fire to tires on the Gaza border for the second night in a row.
(Video via Kan 11) pic.twitter.com/qHuophr5bS
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Gaza has seen other border protests in the past week — a major violent rally last Saturday and a second, relatively calmer, one on Wednesday.
On Saturday, the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry announced that a 13-year-old boy who was critically injured in last Saturday’s clashes with Israeli soldiers had succumbed to his wounds.
Abu Nil was allegedly shot by Israeli forces during the violent protest that saw hundreds of Palestinian protesters approach the fence, throw stones and burn tires. Israeli troops responded with tear gas, rubber bullets, and a form of live fire.
Besides Abu Nil, one other Palestinian and one Israeli police officer were critically wounded during the clashes. The other Palestinian, Osama Dueij, passed away on Thursday; Hamas claimed Dueij as a member of its armed wing.
The Israeli police officer, Barel Shmueli, 21, remains in serious condition in Soroka Hospital in Beersheba. Shmueli was shot at point-blank range when a Palestinian man approached a slit in a barrier where Shmueli was stationed and fired a pistol at him. On Sunday, Shmueli’s condition deteriorated further according to his family.
Israel and Egypt have blockaded Gaza for over a decade, saying the restrictions are necessary to prevent Hamas from arming itself and presenting an even greater threat.
Since May’s 11-day battle between Israel and Hamas, Israel has imposed even tighter restrictions on goods entering and leaving the Strip. It has also blocked Qatari subsidies from entering Gaza, a key element of the status quo ante. The two sides are still conducting indirect negotiations to reach new understandings.
But Israeli officials have vowed that there will be no significant reconstruction of Gaza — which sustained heavy damage during the recent escalation — without a prisoner exchange deal between the two sides. Hamas currently holds captive two Israeli civilians, Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed, as well as the bodies of two Israeli soldiers, Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul.
The past few weeks have seen apparent progress in some aspects of the talks. Earlier this month, Israel, Qatar and the United Nations agreed on a new mechanism to transfer Qatari cash into Gaza. Israel also reduced some restrictions, allowing some cement, cars, and computers to enter, and for around 1,250 Gazan businessmen to leave.
A deal between the two sides for a more comprehensive ceasefire, however, has yet to materialize.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report,