Protest At Gaza-Israel Border

Tens of thousands of Gazans gathered at the Israeli border on Saturday to mark a year since protests and clashes erupted there, testing a fragile truce only 10 days ahead of an Israeli general election. A 17-year-old Palestinian was killed by Israeli fire in clashes east of Gaza City, the Gazan health ministry said, while 59 were wounded, including 13 from live fire.

Earlier, another Palestinian was killed by Israeli fire in an overnight demonstration ahead of the main protest, the ministry said. Egypt had sought to mediate between Israel and Gaza’s Islamist rulers Hamas to rein in violence and avoid the sort of deadly response from the Israeli army that has accompanied past protests.

Clashes so far appeared limited, but warnings to stay far back from the heavily fortified fence that marks the border were not being heeded by all.

“We will move towards the borders even if we die,” said Yusef Ziyada, 21, his face painted in the colours of the Palestinian flag. “We are not leaving. We are returning to our land.”

Dozens of Palestinians were seen approaching the border fence east of Jabalia in the northern Gaza Strip at around midday (0900 GMT) before retreating as Israeli troops fired tear gas. Israel’s army said most demonstrators were remaining away from the fence.

“Approximately 40,000 rioters and demonstrators are currently gathered in several locations along the Gaza Strip security fence,” it said in a statement. “The rioters are hurling rocks and setting tyres on fire. In addition, grenades and explosive devices have been hurled at the Gaza Strip security fence in a number of different incidents.”

It said soldiers were “responding with riot dispersal means and are firing in accordance with standard operating procedures.” Israel’s army had not commented on the death in the overnight demonstration, but late Friday said explosive devices were thrown at the fence “throughout the evening.”