More than 500 people were injured in Gaza on Friday, Palestinian health officials said, as Palestinian protesters demonstrated for a third week along the border fence between Gaza and Israel.
The protests, dubbed “The March of Return,” have led to confrontations between Palestinians and Israeli troops.
The Palestinian Health Ministry said one person was critically injured. Many of the injuries were the result of live ammunition and tear gas fired by Israeli soldiers, the ministry said.
In one incident, captured on video released by the ministry, a paramedic station set up near Khan Younis to treat the wounded was hit by tear gas. Ten paramedics were treated for tear gas inhalation.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said in a statement that 10,000 Palestinians had gathered in five locations along the border fence. The IDF said several attempts to “harm or breach the security infrastructure” along the border had taken place, including the detonation of an explosive device near the disused crossing point at Karni, and the throwing of firebombs.
The IDF said it was responding with what it called riot dispersal means, and that it was firing in accordance with the rules of engagement.
The Israeli military and officials have repeatedly said they will not allow any breach of the fence, and that those who do not abide by the rules of engagement will be shot.
In all, 34 Palestinians have been killed in violence in Gaza since the latest round of demonstrations began on March 30, according to a CNN count.
The goal of the “March of Return” protests, Palestinians say, is to cross the border fence and return to what they say are their lands, which became part of Israel seven decades ago.
Israel blames Hamas and Islamic Jihad for the violence, and has said those killed were “known terrorists.”
Rights group Amnesty International called Friday for the Israeli authorities to “put an immediate end to the excessive and lethal force being used to suppress Palestinian demonstrations in Gaza.”