At least 11 Palestinians were wounded by Israeli fire and tear gas in protests on the Gaza border on Saturday night, according to Gazan reports, shortly after arson balloons launched from the Strip caused two brush fires in southern Israel.
Three of the Palestinians had been wounded by live Israeli fire and were evacuated to a hospital in the enclave in moderate condition. The other eight were wounded by sponge-tipped bullets and tear gas. Eyewitnesses on the border said that the Israeli military is employing live fire, tear gas and drones.
The Hamas unit that holds nighttime riots on the border fence said on Saturday afternoon that they would be renewing activities, in protest of Israel's delay in easing the blockade on the Strip.
In a statement from the Palestinian factions in Gaza, they said that "The blockade has turned life in the Gaza Strip into an unlivable hell. The relief that Israel said it would give to Palestinians, like the entry of some goods and providing permits to merchants to leave the Strip do not answer the minimum requirements. Therefore, our demand from the mediators is to fully remove the blockade."
Representatives of the Palestinian factions, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad, announced that its activities against Israel would increase in the coming days, including launching explosive-laden balloons. The announcement added that any injury to Palestinian protesters "would bring a suitable response from the resistance forces and their military wings."
On Saturday morning, 12-year-old Palestinian boy died of wounds sustained during border clashes with Israeli forces last weekend.
The Gaza Health Ministry identified the boy as Omar Hassan Abu Anil, who sustained serious injuries after being hit by live fire on the border fence east of Gaza City during last Saturday's protest.
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Earlier this week, a Palestinian man died from a bullet wound suffered also during Saturday's protest. The Hamas militant group identified the man, Osama Dueji, 32, as a member of its armed wing and mourned him as a “heroic martyr.”
During last weekend's protests, the Israeli military said demonstrators approached one area of the fence in northern Gaza and tried to climb over while throwing explosives at troops. In response, it said that troops fired tear gas and live rounds toward the protesters. Israeli gunfire wounded 41 Palestinians, the Hamas-run health ministry said.
Hundreds of Palestinians took part in the demonstration organized by Hamas against the Israeli-Egyptian blockade of the enclave and Israel's decision to halt Qatari aid funds.
During the demonstration, an Israeli border policeman was critically wounded after being shot in the head by a Palestinian gunman through a slit in the border fence.
On Wednesday, around 1,000 Palestinians protested along the Gaza border fence in the Khan Yunis area, with Israeli soldiers using live fire to disperse the crowds. According to Palestinian reports, 14 Palestinians were wounded.
Prior to Wednesday's demonstration, the Israeli military said on it has beefed up forces near the Gaza Strip. Officers and soldiers were instructed to respond "more aggressively" to any attempts to breach the border fence or attack Israeli soldiers.
Israel initially blocked Qatari aid and the import of reconstruction materials following May's war with Hamas, On Thursday, however, the country said that it would be easing commercial restrictions on the Gaza Strip and expanding the entry of goods to the Palestinian enclave.