Several Gazans said wounded by IDF during riot near Erez crossing
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Several Gazans said wounded by IDF during riot near Erez crossing

Military says protesters at pedestrian terminal into Israel hurled rocks and damaged infrastructure, prompting response from troops

An ambulance bringing Palestinians wounded in border clashes to Jordan for medical treatment is seen exiting the Gaza Strip through the Erez Border Crossing on May 18, 2018. (IDF Spokesperson)
An ambulance bringing Palestinians wounded in border clashes to Jordan for medical treatment is seen exiting the Gaza Strip through the Erez Border Crossing on May 18, 2018. (IDF Spokesperson)

Several Palestinians were wounded by Israeli fire Tuesday as they protested near the territory’s main personnel crossing with Israel, Gaza’s Hamas-run Health Ministry said.

The Israeli military said Palestinians hurled rocks at the crossing in the Strip’s north and damaged infrastructure, prompting troops to respond with tear gas and live fire.

Such protests are rare at Erez, the only terminal for travel into Israel or the West Bank from Gaza.

The violent protest broke several days of calm, which came after understandings were reportedly reached between Israel and Hamas.

Gaza had seen a surge of violence since the start of the “March of Return” protests along the border in March. The clashes, which Gaza’s Hamas rulers have orchestrated, have included rock and Molotov cocktail attacks on troops, as well as attempts to breach the border fence and attack Israeli soldiers.

Since the protests began in March, at least 125 protesters have been killed by Israeli fire. Hamas, which seeks to destroy Israel, has acknowledged that dozens of those killed were its members. During that time, a Gaza sniper killed an Israeli soldier.

During the demonstrations, 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.

Protesters have on several occasions during the demonstrations vandalized key infrastructure at the Kerem Shalom crossing in central Gaza — the only entry point of outside goods into the Hamas-run Strip.

Gas pipes on fire at the Kerem Shalom goods crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip, May 11, 2018. (Israel Defense Forces)

Such incidents have led the crossing to be closed for significant periods while the damage was repaired.

This past Friday some 5,000 Palestinians protested along the border, with some 180 wounded, according to Palestinian reports.

Israel and Hamas have engaged in a number of brief exchanges of fire in recent months that have seen terror groups in Gaza launch hundreds of rockets and mortars toward Israeli territory, including one last month that was the largest flare-up in violence since the 2014 war.

UN envoy Nickolay Mladenov and Egyptian officials have been seeking to broker a long-term truce between Israel and Hamas. The two sides have fought three wars since 2008.

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