Gaza Protests: One Palestinian Killed, 233 Wounded by Israeli Military Fire, Report Says

Israeli army says 'violent rioters and terrorists' throwing firebombs along Gaza border in third week of demonstrations ■ Protesters: Marches meant to be 'nonviolent resistance'

Palestinians burn tires at the border fence with Israel, east of Jabalia in the central Gaza city, during a protest on April 13, 2018.

One Palestinian was killed and 233 were wouned by live israeli fire as more than 10,000 protested along the Israel-Gaza border on Friday, burning tires and Israeli flags, the Gaza Health Ministry said.

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According to the Israeli army, protests were held at five different sites along the border.

Gaza protests map.

The Health Ministry in Gaza identified the Palestinian killed in the protest as Asalam Saudi Hasralla, 28. Overall, 969 Palestinians were wounded in Friday's protest, with 233 wounded by live fire and 419 evacuated to the hospital. Of those wounded, 20 were women and 67 were under age 18. Thirteen Palestinians were wounded by rubber-tipped bullets. The ministry noted that the number of protesters was lower than last week.

According to the army, numerous attempts to destroy obstacles erected by the army were made during the day. They also said that a number of attacks were attempted, with explosives and firebombs thrown at the border, as well as gunfire.

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Later on Friday, the Israeli military said that attempts were made to breach and cross the border fence. An explosive charge was thrown in the Karni area, and firebombs were thrown at the border. A kite with a Molotov cocktail was sent towards the Israeli side of the border, but it fell on the side of Gaza, and no one was hurt. 

Palestinians: Smoke grenade fired a medical tent, ten medics suffer smoke inhalation

The army reiterated it is opening fire only according to its protocols and will not allow anyone to harm Israel's "defense infrastructures," calling demonstrators "violent rioters and terrorists."

Palestinians said that a smoke grenade was fired at a medical tent, causing ten medics to suffer from smoke inhalation.

Friday's protests were the third round of mass demonstrations in the Gaza Strip, amid reports in Gaza that some demonstrators were preparing firebombs for what they termed “Molotov Day,” a reference to so-called molotov cocktails. The demonstrations’ organizers, however, denounced that idea, stressing that the protests are meant to be “nonviolent resistance.”

Palestinians take cover from tear gas smoke during clashes with Israeli security forces near border fence with Israel, east of Gaza City in the central Gaza Strip on April 13, 2018.
Several thousand Gazans gathered for a third consecutive Friday of mass protests along the border with Israel after violence in which Israeli forces have killed 33 Palestinians and wounded hundreds of others. / AFP PHOTO / MAHMUD HAMS

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One organizer told Haaretz that "Israel is trying in every way to pin the marches on Hamas and it's very convenient for them if this action becomes violent on the Palestinian side, and that's why we won't allow it."

He charged that Israel’s airstrikes on Hamas positions over the past week show that Israel is trying to draw the Palestinians, and especially Hamas, into a full-on confrontation.

As this Friday’s theme, organizers plan to have the demonstrators burn Israeli flags and wave Palestinian ones.

The kite with a Molotov cocktail that was sent over the Gaza border on April 13, 2018.

Army braces for violence

Due to both the demonstrations in Gaza and the tension in the north, Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot has cut short his trip to Poland, where he was participating in the annual March of the Living. He had decided to cut the trip short before he left and even considered not going at all, because of the situation in Syria. Ultimately, however, he decided to go but return a day early.

On the Gazan front, the IDF has used both sticks and carrots over the past week to persuade Hamas to stop the violent attacks that have accompanied the Palestinian demonstrations.

If Hamas doesn’t stop the violence, the army warned, Israel will retaliate by attacking Hamas positions deep inside Gaza. But it also offered an economic carrot in the form of expanding the zone in which Gazan fisherman are allowed to fish – a decision that was hardly self-evident given that just last week, the state indicted a Gaza resident for planning attacks on Israeli naval vessels together with several co-conspirators.

The IDF expects this Friday’s demonstration to attract roughly the same number of people as last Friday’s, but hopes that it will be less violent on both sides. It has stressed that it won’t tolerate continued violent demonstrations in Gaza at a time when tensions are running high in the north.

Overall, almost 1,300 Palestinians were shot and wounded by Israeli soldiers over the past couple of weeks of mass protests on the Gaza-Israel border, according to a computerized count by the Gaza Health Ministry. An additional 1,554 Gazans have been treated for tear gas inhalation or injuries by rubber-coated steel pellets.

In addition, 34 Palestinians have been killed during this period, including 27 in border demonstrations.