Israeli fighter jets struck Hamas positions in Gaza on Saturday night, following violent clashes on the Gaza border, the Israeli military said in a statement.
An IDF solider, First sergeant Bar’el Hadaria Shmueli, 21, from the Border Patrol, was taken to a nearby hospital in critical condition after sustaining a head injury from live gunfire. Dozens of Gazans were also injured in the clashes, including a 13-year-old boy in critical condition.
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Israel targeted four weapons storage and manufacturing sites belonging to Hamas. The military later bolstered forces along the Gaza border
According to the Palestinian media reports, sounds of explosions were heard near a power station, in a compound near the Nusirat refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip and west of Khan Yunis.
Forty-one Gazans were wounded in clashes on the Israel-Gaza border on Saturday afternoon, where hundreds of Gazan youth have flocked to the border.
Protesters hurled explosives and rocks, and troops responded with crowd dispersal means including live fire, the IDF said. According to the IDF, at one point, an attempt was made to steal a soldier's weapon, but the soldier fought back and successfully staved off the effort.
Eleven protesters were evacuated to the hospital; two were seriously wounded, with local media reporting that a 13-year-old is in critical condition.
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Most of those injured were shot by live gunfire aimed at the bottom part of their body, the director of Gaza's Shifa Hospital Dr. Mohamad Salima said.
Israel Police said that the wounded IDF soldier was hit by live gunfire through a slit in the border fence and that he was evacuated by helicopter to the Soroka Medical Center in Be'er Sheba. He is in the intensive care unit and his "life is in danger," said the hospital's deputy director, noting that the soldier sustained a severe head injury and underwent surgery. In footage of the incident, several Palestinians can be seen approaching the border fence, throwing rocks at a soldier's weapon, and one of them shooting through the slit.
Protesters began gathering at around 5 P.M. on Saturday afternoon, marking the 52nd anniversary of an arson attack on the Al-Aqsa compound in 1969.
The protests come two days after an agreement had been reached between Qatar and the United Nations on transferring stalled Qatari aid money for poor families in the Gaza Strip, after a four-month delay that risked reigniting tensions in the region.
According to the Qatari statement, about 100,000 Palestinian families in Gaza will receive $100 in cash each month, starting in early September.
Earlier Saturday, Hamas spokesperson Fauzi Baharom said that the rally was intended at sending a message to Israel "that the Palestinian people would not agree to the continued siege in the Gaza Strip, the continued Judaization of Jerusalem and the settlement enterprise."
Reuters contributed to this report.