At least 40 Palestinians were injured on Friday afternoon during clashes between hundreds of Palestinian demonstrators and Israeli soldiers in eastern Gaza Strip, close to the border with Israel, medics said.

Ashraf al-Qedra, spokesman of the health ministry in Gaza, told reporters that 40 Palestinians were injured, including 22 who were shot and wounded by the gunfire of Israeli soldiers, who are stationed on the border with eastern Gaza Strip.

The clashes broke out on Friday after hundreds of Palestinians joined the weekly anti-Israel protests and rallies, better known as the Great March of Return and Breaking the Israeli Siege, which began in late March last year.

The highest commission of the marches of return had earlier called on the Gaza Strip’s populations to join the 65th week of marches to express rejection to the U.S. peace plan, better known as The Deal of the Century.

Eyewitnesses in eastern Gaza said that the demonstrators waved Palestinian flags, chanted slogans against Israel and the United States and threw stones at the soldiers stationed on the border with Israel.

However, Israeli media reported that around 5,000 Palestinian demonstrators gathered near the fence of the border, released dozens of arson balloons and threw handmade grenades on the soldiers stationed at the borderline area.

Local radio stations reported that Israeli soldiers fired dozens of tear gas canisters, metal-coated rubber bullets and live gunshots at the demonstrators, who approached the fence of the border with Israel.

The rallies and protests went on although Israel earlier on Friday announced that it has taken a series of measures to ease the blockade that Israel has been imposing on the Gaza Strip since 2007, according to Israel Radio.

The radio reported that Israel lifted the ban on the shipment of 18 different kinds of raw-materials that Israel said it had dual usage such as fertilization materials for agriculture, metal robes and fibreglass used for renovating fishing boats.

The report also said that Israel decided to increase providing permissions for 5,000 Palestinian merchants and businessmen to go from Gaza to Israel and to the West Bank to increase Gaza Strip trade of export and import.

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