At least 12 Palestinians have been killed and hundreds hurt during one of the largest Palestinian demonstrations along the Israel-Gaza border in recent years.
Tens of thousands of Palestinians, pressing for a right of return for refugees to what is now Israel, gathered at five locations along the fenced 40-mile frontier where tents were erected for a planned six-week protest, local officials said.
Demonstrators were also seen burning and stamping on posters with the face of U.S. President Donald Trump, who ordered the move of the embassy from Tel Aviv.
The Israeli military estimated there were 30,000 demonstrators and used a drone to drop tear gas on the massive crowds.
Gaza health officials said one of the 12 dead was aged 16 and at least 400 people were wounded by live gunfire, while others were struck by rubber bullets or treated for tear gas inhalation.
Families brought their children to the encampments just a few hundred yards from the Israeli security barrier with the Hamas Islamist-run enclave and football fields were marked in the sand and scout bands played.
But as the day wore on, hundreds of Palestinian youths ignored calls from the organisers and the Israeli military to stay away from the frontier, where Israeli soldiers across the border kept watch from dirt mound embankments.
The military said its troops had used ‘riot dispersal means and firing towards main instigators.’ Some of the demonstrators were ‘rolling burning tires and hurling stones’ at the border fence and at soldiers.
Israeli troops fired live bullets and tear gas at protesters on the other side of the border fence, and hundreds of Palestinians were wounded by army fire, Gaza officials said.
The six-week protest has prompted the Israeli army to deploy reinforcements, including more than 100 special forces snipers, for fear of mass attempts to break through the security fence.
The Israeli military said thousands of Palestinians rolled burning tires and threw stones at forces stationed on the border. It said troops opened fire at the ‘main instigators’.
Mr Americana, Overpasses News Desk
March 30th, 2018