Gazans return en masse to Israel border; 15 injured

Mahmud Hams—AFP

Mahmud Hams—AFP

Sinwar said the demonstrations were aimed at breaking the blockade, and also as a protest against Monday's planned move of the U.S. Embassy to contested Jerusalem. Israeli soldiers, some crouching behind sand berms, fired live bullets and tear gas volleys from the other side of the fence.

Protesters clashed with Israeli troops Friday at several locations on the border between Gaza and Israel.

The Israeli military has retained a strong presence on the border to prevent Palestinian attempts to damage security infrastructure and violate Israel's sovereignty.

Earlier today, fire broke out in a field close to the border when an explosive kite that was launched from Gaza landed in southern Israel.

Gaza's protesters have vowed to break through the perimeter fence despite the presence of Israeli snipers deployed on sandbanks behind it. "We are used to wars and no one with us but Allah".

The Israeli military has faced global and domestic criticism over its use of live fire, with the United Nations and European Union calling for an independent investigation rejected by Israel.

Responding to rights groups' demand, the state argued that the demonstrations fall into the category of a "state of war", and therefore human rights law does not apply to the rules of engagement.

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Gaza's health care system has struggled to cope with the high number of casualties due to Israel's lethal crackdown on unarmed Palestinians demonstrating along the eastern perimeter of the besieged and occupied territory. Under a newly erected plastic sheet-roofed hall, Afnan, a 25-year-old medical student from Gaza City, recited some of her own verses promoting the Palestinian people's right to return.

For many protesters, that process is a continuation of the process of forcing Palestinians out of Palestine that began in 1948. Israel subsequently destroyed almost all of their homes and villages.

The protest on Friday came on the same day as marches by Palestinians in Gaza in the run up to Nakba day-the day they commemorate their expulsion. In the weeks leading up to Nakba Day, there would be weekly marches as well as bicycle races and other events. Video shows the moment when Muhammad was shot in the head, causing him to fall to the ground, during a Great March of Return protest on 20 April.

"Our presence here constitutes a clear message to the occupiers that Palestinians, who have among them poets, writers, singers and Dabka dancers, protest at the occupation in their own ways", he told The New Arab.

The same source said 167 people were wounded.

"We went out to knock the wall of the prison and declare it clearly that we will not agree to die slowly", he said.

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