Over 20 Palestinians Wounded by Israeli Fire in Border Protests, Gaza Authorities Say

Clashes come day after Netanyahu warns army is 'preparing for a large-scale operation'

Palestinian paramedics carry away on a stretcher a man injured during clashes following protests along the border with Israel east of Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip, July 5, 2019.

40 Palestinians were wounded, 22 of those by live fire, on Friday during protests along the Israel-Gaza border, the Gaza Health Ministry said. Two protesters who crossed the border fence were arrested, and one of them was carrying a knife, Israeli authorities said.

Two other protesters breached the border fence, but returned to Gaza before Israeli forces could apprehend them.

According to the Israel Defense Forces, some 7,000 Palestinians took part in protests in several locations in Gaza. Some threw explosive devices at security forces who responded by means of protocol.

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The demonstrations did not deviate for outlines set by Hamas by which protesters are forbidden from approaching the border fence. Inspectors on behalf of the organizing committee of the weekly March of Return demonstrations worked to prevent escalations. 

The organizing committee called on Gazans to protest the recent economic conference in Bahrain, saying it failed because it was boycotted by Palestinians. The committee added that the Palestinians in Gaza will "continue the popular struggle with the tools at their disposal to oppose Trump."

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the south on Wednesday, saying that the army is preparing for the possibility of a large-scale military campaign in Gaza.

“Our policy is clear. We want to return calm, but at the same time, we are preparing for a large-scale military operation, if necessary. These are my orders to the military,” he said.

The leaders of regional councils in the Gaza border communities walked out of a meeting with the prime minister in protest at what they said was the government’s disregard for the residents living in border communities. The communities have faced rounds of rocket fire as well as violence along the border fence and fires set by incendiary balloons launched from Gaza.