Gazans clash with Israeli troops at weekly demonstration along border
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20 boats sail to Israeli naval border in maritime protest

Gazans clash with Israeli troops at weekly demonstration along border

Ships sail toward edge of permitted fishing zone, as part of protest against naval blockade meant to keep Hamas from rearming

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Illustrative. Palestinian protesters carry national flags during clashes with Israeli forces on November 23, 2018, in the eastern outskirts of Gaza City, near the border with Israel. (MAHMUD HAMS / AFP)
Illustrative. Palestinian protesters carry national flags during clashes with Israeli forces on November 23, 2018, in the eastern outskirts of Gaza City, near the border with Israel. (MAHMUD HAMS / AFP)

Some 1,000 Palestinians demonstrated along the northern border of the Gaza Strip Monday, as part of a weekly protest against Israel’s naval blockade of the coastal enclave, the army said.

According to the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry, three people were injured by Israeli gunfire during the violent demonstrations, in which some protesters threw rocks at Israeli troops on the other side of the security fence.

The Israel Defense Forces confirmed that live fire was used in some cases, along with tear gas, in order to break up the riot.

Unlike in previous weeks, no explosives or firebombs were thrown at Israeli troops, an army spokesperson said.

In addition to the border protests, which were held on the beach across from the Israeli community of Kibbutz Zikim, approximately 20 ships also took part in a maritime protest, sailing toward the edge of the approved fishing zone.

Palestinians in boats place Palestinian flags on a metal barricade at the maritime border with Israel, in the northern Gaza Strip, on October 8, 2018. (AFP Photo/Said Khatib)

Israel maintains that the naval blockade is necessary in order to prevent Hamas and other terror groups in the Gaza Strip from obtaining weapons and other war materiel.

Similar protests have been held in previous weeks. Last Monday, approximately 800 Palestinians rioted along the border, throwing rocks and one explosive device at troops on the other side.

In response, Israeli troops launched containers of tear gas and, in some cases, fired live shots at rioters, the IDF said.

Israeli soldiers responded with live fire in some cases, injuring 25 people to varying degrees, including an Associated Press cameraman, according to the Gaza health ministry.

Colleagues wheel AP cameraman Rashed Rashid, 47, into a treatment room in Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip after he is shot in his left leg while covering a protest on the beach, November 19, 2018. (AP Photo/ Adel Hana)

Journalist Rashed Rashid was shot in his left ankle while filming the riots near Beit Lahiya, in the northern Gaza Strip, a spokesman for the Hamas-run ministry said.

The cameraman was taken to a hospital. Israel’s Foreign Press Association called for a thorough investigation of the incident.

“We deplore the shooting of any journalist and urge the army to conduct a thorough and credible investigation,” the FPA said, adding: “We expect serious disciplinary action if wrongdoing is discovered.”

In addition to the hundreds of rioters on the shore, the army said 20 ships also set sail from the Palestinian enclave toward Israel last Monday in an attempt to break through the naval blockade Israel has in place around Gaza.

Since March, Palestinians have been holding the weekly “March of Return” protests on the border, which Israel has accused Gaza’s Hamas rulers of using to carry out attacks on troops and attempt to breach the security fence. Hamas, an Islamist terror group, seeks to destroy Israel.

Israel has demanded an end to the violent demonstrations along the border in any ceasefire agreement.

Earlier this month, Israel engaged in its largest battle with Hamas and Palestinian terror groups in Gaza since the 2014 war.

Some 500 rockets and mortar shells were fired at southern Israel over the course of last Monday and Tuesday, according to the Israel Defense Forces — more than twice the rate at which they were launched during the 2014 conflict.

The Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted over 100 of them. Most of the rest landed in open fields, but dozens landed inside Israeli cities and towns, killing one person, injuring dozens and causing significant property damage.

In response, the Israeli military said it targeted approximately 160 sites in the Gaza Strip connected to the Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror groups, including four facilities that the army designated as “key strategic assets.”

The fighting ended on Tuesday after an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire took effect.

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