Palestinians stream to Gaza border camps for mass protests

Palestinian protestors burn tires during clashes with Israeli security forces on the Gaza Israel border east of Gaza City

Thousands of Palestinians gathered at the Israel-Gaza border on Friday, and violent clashes between Gazan protesters and Israeli forces were renewed for the third consecutive week.

Israeli soldiers watch Palestinian protesters following a demonstration near the border with Israel, east of Khan Yunis, in the southern Gaza Strip on March 31, 2018. The IDF expects protesters to throw Molotov cocktails and burn Israeli flags.

The protest began on March 30, and is expected to culminate on May 15.

Since late March, 26 Palestinians have been killed and hundreds wounded by Israeli fire in mass border protests led by Hamas, but also driven by widespread desperation over the territory's decade-old border blockade by Israel and Egypt.

The Israeli army said it targeted a number of Hamas structures in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday in response to what it said were explosives planted along the Israel-Gaza border.

Rights groups have strongly criticized Israeli forces while pointing to unverified videos that have spread online of Gazans appearing to be shot, including one seeming to show a Palestinian targeted as he ran away from the fence while holding a tire.

One of the Palestinians was in critical condition, Palestinian medics said, as a protest dubbed "The Great March of Return" moved into its third week.

The Israeli army has shot dead 32 Palestinian protesters since border clashes intensified on March 30, drawing worldwide condemnation.

Abdulati added "during these activities, Israeli flags will be also burned to absorb the anger of the Palestinian participants until Israel meets the demands of the populations in the Gaza Strip, especially lifting the blockade".

The idea of mass protests was initially floated by social media activists, but was later co-opted by Hamas, which avowedly seeks Israel's destruction, with the backing of smaller terror groups.

Israel has declared a no-go zone close to the Gaza border fence, and deployed army sharpshooters along it.

The Israeli government accuses Hamas, the Islamist movement that has ruled Gaza largely since Israeli soldiers and settlers withdrew in 2005, of having instigated the protests and of using them as cover to launch attacks.

Israel and Egypt have enforced a blockade since Hamas, an Islamic militant group, overran the territory in 2007.

"I am from the village of Hiribya and it is my right to return to it", she said, referring to a village north of Gaza destroyed in the 1948 war surrounding Israel's creation. Israel says snipers only target the main "instigators".

No injuries were reported from the border explosives or the Israeli retaliation. Gaza's Hamas-run health ministry said one Gazan was killed and another seriously wounded in the strike.

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