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Thirty Palestinians hurt in border protest

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April 13, 2018

Palestinians have been wounded by Israeli fire during mass protests along Gaza's border with Israel.

Thousands of Palestinians have staged a mass protest along Gaza's sealed border with Israel, some burning Israeli flags while Israeli soldiers fired tear gas and live bullets from across the border fence.

At least nine Palestinians were reported wounded so far in what was the third mass rally in two weeks. Since late March, 27 Palestinians have been killed and hundreds wounded by army fire during such rallies.

On Friday, most of the demonstrators assembled in five tent camps located several hundred metres from the border fence. Smaller groups moved closer to the fence, throwing stones, torching tyres and burning large Israeli flags.

Israeli forces fired tear gas, rubber-coated steel pellets and live rounds. The military said that demonstrators hurled an explosive device and several fire bombs near the fence in what it said was an apparent attempt to damage it.

Rights groups have branded the Israeli military's open-fire regulations as unlawful, saying they permit soldiers to use potentially lethal force against unarmed protesters.

Israel has accused Gaza's Islamic militant Hamas rulers of using the protests as a cover for attacks and says snipers only target the main "instigators."

The marches have been organised by Hamas, but large turnouts on two preceding Fridays were also driven by desperation among the territory's 2 million residents.

Gaza has endured a border blockade by Israel and Egypt since Hamas overran the territory in 2007, a year after winning Palestinian parliament elections.

The blockade has driven Gaza deeper into poverty, with unemployment approaching 50 percent and electricity available for less than five hours a day.

The marchers are protesting against the blockade, but are also asserting what they say is a "right of return" of Palestinian refugees and their descendants to what is now Israel.

Gaza's Health Ministry said more than 1300 Palestinians were wounded by live fire in the past two weeks.

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