Eight Palestinians Wounded, Two Seriously, by Israeli Fire in Border Protests, Gaza Authorities Say

Relatively small protests come a day before one-year anniversary of weekly 'March of Return' demonstrations at Israel-Gaza fence

Palestinians react to tear gas fired by Israeli troops during a protest at the Israeli-Gaza border fence, March 29, 2019.
REUTERS/Mohammed Salem

Eight Palestinians were wounded by live fire during protests at the fence separating Israel from the Gaza Strip on Friday, the Gaza Health Ministry said. One of the wounded was hit in the stomach and was in serious condition, according to the ministry. 

A relatively small number of people, numbering a few hundred, were protesting by the fence, a day before the one-year anniversary of the start of the weekly protests. The military has sent additional troops to the area in anticipation of a large turnout.

On Thursday, the committee behind the weekly protests called on demonstrators to "not give Israeli snipers an opportunity to hit them," in an apparent attempt to cool tensions ahead of the weekend.

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Tens of thousands of Palestinians are expected to take part in protests across the Gaza Strip on Saturday, according to the committee, which urged Gazans to focus on arts and heritage events.

Meanwhile, an Egyptian delegation of security officials returned to Gaza on Thursday following a short visit to Israel that lasted only several hours.

Hamas' leadership, as well as leaders of other factions in the Gaza Strip, were still holding talks with Egyptian mediators in order "to reach serious understandings with Israel," Haniyeh said. The remarks come after a tense week that saw rockets from Gaza wounding Israelis for the first time in years and Israeli airstrikes on Hamas targets.

Amid talks, Head of the Hamas political bureau Ismail Haniyeh said Friday that the organization's leadership as well as the other factions in the Gaza Strip are still holding talks with Egyptian mediators in order "to reach serious understandings with Israel." 

This comes after a week of border escalations in which the Israeli military carried out a series of strikes on Hamas targets in Gaza on Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning after a rocket launched from the coastal enclave targeted southern Israel.