Hundreds of Palestinians riot on Gaza border; 9 said wounded by IDF fire

Military says suspects hurled explosives at fence, tried to cross it; violent protest comes after report claiming Hamas may resume regular marches on frontier

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent

Palestinian rioters clash with Israeli soldiers on the Gaza border, September 1, 2023. (Atia Mohammed/Flash90)
Palestinian rioters clash with Israeli soldiers on the Gaza border, September 1, 2023. (Atia Mohammed/Flash90)

Hundreds of Palestinians rioted in the Gaza Strip on the border with Israel on Friday afternoon, hurling explosive devices and attempting to break through the security barrier, the military said.

The Israel Defense Forces said in a statement that troops responded with riot dispersal means against the rioters, as well as sniper fire in some cases.

“During the riot, several explosive devices were thrown, and several attempts to cross the barrier area were identified, which were thwarted by the forces,” the IDF said.

The Hamas-run health ministry in the Gaza Strip said nine Palestinians were wounded by Israeli fire amid the rioting. Their conditions were not immediately known.

Footage posted by Palestinian media outlets showed rioters placing and detonating an explosive device on a gate on the barrier.

Another clip showed Palestinians attempting to cut through the fence with bolt cutters.

The rioting comes after a report on Thursday claiming that the Hamas terror group, which rules the Strip, was considering a resumption of regular protest marches along the border and other activities against Israel.

Weekly protests along the frontier began at the end of March 2018 and continued almost every Friday until the end of 2019, with the demand that Israel lift its restrictions on the movement of people and goods into and out of the coastal enclave and calling for the return of Palestinian refugees and their descendants to lands that are now a part of the Jewish state.

Israel says its blockade of Gaza is necessary to prevent Hamas from freely arming itself for war and attacks.

The protests frequently included violence, including the hurling of explosives, rocks and firebombs at IDF soldiers, as well as attempts to storm and sabotage the border fence, and in some cases live fire toward Israeli soldiers. Troops often responded with rubber-coated bullets and tear gas as well as live fire. More than 200 Palestinians were killed at the demonstrations and thousands were injured.

In addition, Palestinians regularly flew helium balloons into Israel carrying explosives and incendiary devices, sparking fires that destroyed large swaths of foliage.

While Hamas is said to now consider resuming the ”Marches of Return,” as they came to be known, no official statement has yet been published by the terror group on its future plans.

Gianluca Pacchiani contributed to this report.

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