Thousands protest at Gaza border, over 100 said injured amid riots
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Thousands protest at Gaza border, over 100 said injured amid riots

Gaza’s Hamas health officials report dozens struck by live fire; IDF vehicle said hit by bullet near border, none hurt

A young Palestinian uses a slingshot to hurl rocks at Israeli troops during clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli forces across the barbed-wire fence during a border demonstration near Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on July 19, 2019. (Said Khatib/AFP)
A young Palestinian uses a slingshot to hurl rocks at Israeli troops during clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli forces across the barbed-wire fence during a border demonstration near Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on July 19, 2019. (Said Khatib/AFP)

Several thousand Palestinians gathered near the Gaza Strip’s border with Israel Friday to take part in weekly protests near the fence.

Some 6,000 people reportedly took part in the demonstrations. The army said some rioters hurled rocks and explosive devices at the border fence and that troops were responding with less-lethal means as well as live fire in several cases where suspects attempted to sabotage or break through the border.

The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry said over 100 people had been injured in the demonstrations, around half of whom were hit by live fire. Also hurt were four paramedics and two reporters, the ministry said.

Channel 12 news reported that an IDF vehicle was hit by a bullet during the demonstrations, but no one was hurt.

Egyptian security officials held talks with Palestinian leaders in recent days, in part to prevent a new flareup of tensions between Israel and the Gaza Strip.

Fresh tensions were feared last weekend after Israel shot dead a Hamas field commander along the border, prompting the Islamist terror organization to vow revenge.

Israel later signaled it had fired in error, saying an initial inquiry showed the Hamas member, Mahmoud Ahmad Sabri al-Adham, had been erroneously identified by soldiers as an armed terrorist, but was apparently an operative trying to stop Palestinian youths from breaching the security fence.

A Palestinian protester hurls rocks at an Israeli army vehicle during clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli forces across the barbed-wire fence during a border demonstration near Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on July 19, 2019. (Said Khatib/AFP)

Last Friday night, Israel’s military said two rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory, but no damage or injuries were reported. Uncharacteristically, the Israel Defense Forces did not respond to the attack.

Under the fragile ceasefire brokered by Egyptian and UN officials following a severe flareup in May, Israel is meant to ease aspects of its blockade on the coastal enclave in exchange for relative calm. Israel maintains that the blockade is necessary to prevent arms from entering Gaza that could be used in attacks against it.

Al-Adham’s death threatened to spark another round of large-scale violence between Israel and terror groups in Gaza. Throughout the past year and a half, the two sides have fought several bouts — with terror groups firing mortar shells, rockets and missiles at Israeli cities and towns, and the IDF retaliating with airstrikes — often sparked by smaller incidents along the border.

Palestinian protesters assist an injured protester during clashes with Israeli forces across the barbed-wire fence during a border demonstration near Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on July 19, 2019. (Said Khatib/AFP)

Last week at the protests a senior Hamas official called for members of the Palestinian diaspora to kill Jews around the world, but was forced to walk back his comments as the terrorist group distanced itself from his remarks.

Fathi Hammad, a Hamas politburo member considered a hardliner and known for his fiery rhetoric, said: “We must attack every Jew on the globe by way of slaughter and killing.”

His comments were condemned by Palestinian Authority and UN officials as well as by leaders of his own group.

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