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Israel arrests 5 Palestinians crossing border fence from Gaza

FILE- Protesters sit while Israeli troops fired teargas near the fence of Gaza Strip border with Israel during a protest east of Gaza City, Friday, Nov. 9, 2018.
AP Photo/Adel Hana
Palestinians from the Hamas-run enclave often attempt to cross the Gaza border into Israel

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) arrested five Palestinians who crossed the border from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory, the military said Thursday morning.

All five of the male suspects were arrested and taken in for questioning around 2 AM after they breached the fence in the southern part of the Gaza enclave.

Palestinians from the Hamas-run enclave often attempt to cross the Gaza border into Israel, knowing the security risks it involves. The Israeli military repeatedly warns Palestinians from breaching the security fence.

However, as humanitarian conditions continue to degrade under the Israeli blockade, a number of Palestinians have attempted to cross the border fence, preferring to be placed in Israeli prisons than to remain in Gaza.

Unfortunately for those attempting to flee the impoverished enclave, under such circumstances Israel typically returns the Palestinians to Gaza after holding them for questioning.

AP Photo/ Khalil Hamra

Since March 30, tensions have flared between Israel and the coastal enclave as Gazans have participated in weekly "Great March of Return" demonstrations on the border, partly hoping to draw attention to the unacceptable living conditions faced by residents.

The demonstrations, in which protesters have demanded the lifting of Israel's blockade on the strip and the right to return to what they say are their ancestral homes in Israel, often turn violent with Palestinians hurling rocks and explosive devices, attempting to infiltrate the border, and occasionally planting explosive devices or shooting towards Israeli forces.

The launching of kites and balloons affixed with incendiary devices had become a ubiquitous tactic of the protests, burning acres of fields adjacent to the border and causing Israel millions of dollars in damages.

Since the protests began, at least 255 Palestinians, including at least 50 members of Hamas, have been killed mostly by Israeli fire during border clashes but also by air and artillery strikes.

Two Israeli soldiers have been killed over the same period, one by a Palestinian sniper and another during an aborted special forces operation inside Gaza.

The army has accused Hamas, the Islamist group that runs Gaza and has fought three wars with Israel since 2008, of seeking to use the protests as cover to carry out attacks.

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