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LIVE BLOG: 15 Palestinians killed, scores injured in Gaza protests

Israeli soldiers fire tear gas as thousands of Gazans march just across the border fence sparking clashes in which four Palestinians were killed and more than 200 wounded
Scroll down for live updates as thousands in Gaza march toward Israel to kick off weeks of protests

Fifteen mainly young Palestinians were killed and hundreds more injured by Israeli fire on Friday as thousands of Palestinian protesters surged towards Israel from inside the Gaza Strip in some of the largest demonstrations seen in years.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said 30,000 Palestinians were taking part of the planned rallies endorsed by all Palestinian factions to mark 'Land Day', which commemorates the killing of six unarmed Arab protesters in Israel in 1976.

Calling it the 'Great March of Return,' protesters were demanding hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees who fled or were expelled during the war surrounding Israel's creation in 1948 be allowed to return.

Gaza's health ministry said 1416 people had presented themselves for medical treatment, with injuries ranging from tear gas exposure to bullet wounds. The Red Crescent medical service earlier said more than 200 people were wounded from live fire.

The Friday protests kick off six weeks of protests, to climax on May 14, when the United States will cut the ribbon on its new embassy in Jerusalem.

Read more:

Gaza protest a mix of deadly violence, family gathering

Hamas: Gaza protests show Trump that Jerusalem decision will never be accepted

Turkey, Jordan, Egypt lash Israel for 'disproportionate' force in Gaza

Friday 30 March 2018
7:49 PM
International watchdog Human Rights Watch has called the number of wounded and killed Palestinians "shocking".

The NGO said "soldiers firing across the Gaza fence raises serious questions about Israel's longstanding use of live ammunition to police demonstrations."

"Israeli allegations of violence by some protesters do not change the fact that using lethal force is banned by international law except to meet an imminent threat to life."
6:46 PM
The UN Security Council will hold closed-door talks on Friday about the situation in Gaza, a diplomat told AFP.

The meeting, to be held at the request of Kuwait, will begin at 6:30 pm (2230 GMT), the diplomat said on condition of anonymity.
6:26 PM
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's spokesman for the foreign press sent this tweet a couple of hours ago:

6:20 PM
In a short speech, watched by Senior Middle East Correspondent Mohammed Al-Kassim, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said that he:

- He holds Israel responsible for today's events
- Requests that the 'international community' intervene to protect 'our unarmed people'
6:14 PM
The Arab League has spoken out about the day's events, and condemned Israel over the "brutal" death of 15 protesters.

Secretary General Ahmad Abul Gheit said Israel is responsible for "those souls that were annihilated," according to a statement cited by Kuwait's official news agency KUNA.

"Terrorism will not only suppress the Palestinians," he was quoted as saying, referring to Israel, but would "make the situation explode just like what happened today."
6:13 PM
In Gaza, AFP spoke to Ahmed Saber, 80, as he sat in one of the many tents that have sprung up for the protests, set to run for weeks.

In 1948 his family fled the village of Majdal, on the site of what is now the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon, not far from the Gaza border.

"I feel that these tents are similar to the white tents that were set up for us after they made us flee," he told the news agency.
5:46 PM
Palestine TV reports that all schools, universities and other public institutions will close on Saturday per President Abbas' declaration of a day of mourning.
4:56 PM
Jordan has joined Turkey in condemning Israel's response to the protests in Gaza.

Government spokesman Mohammad Momani was quoted as saying by the official Petra news agency that Amman holds "Israel accountable as the occupation power behind today's violations and for using 'excessive force' against peaceful protesters who were marching to commemorate the Land Day and affirm their legitimate rights in accordance with international law and norms."

He "urged the international community to pressure Israel to abide by its obligations as the occupying power and address the humanitarian crisis the coastal territory has been experiencing for years now."
4:45 PM
The death toll from Friday's protests has now hit 15, the Palestinian health ministry said.

It put the number of injured at 1416, which includes everyone who presented themselves for treatment throughout the day.
3:41 PM
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has declared Saturday a day of mourning for the "martyrs" killed in Friday's protests, Palestine TV reports.
3:13 PM
The IDF says it shelled Hamas positions after two men in Gaza opened fire towards Israeli troops.

"Two terrorists approached the fence and fired at our forces. Our forces reacted immediately with small arms and tank fire towards the terrorists and Hamas positions nearby," the statement said.

An Israeli warplane was also used in the strike, the army said.

The military accused Hamas of using the protests as cover to carry out terror activities.
3:12 PM
Gaza health ministry says 13th Palestinian killed by Israeli fire in Gaza, further details to come.
2:48 PM

2:38 PM
The Palestinian health ministry has reported the deaths of three more protesters from Israeli fire, bringing the total number killed to 12:

Abdel Khader-Hajri, 42, Sari Walid Abu Odeh and Hamdan Ismail Abu Amsa.

Odeh and Amsa were killed in the Beit Hanoun area and their ages were not given.
2:21 PM
Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, whose Fatah faction is largely banished from Gaza, has said the following on Twitter:

"We mourn the martyrs of our great people and we tell their families that our people shall not surrender. The global conscious must acknowledge that history will ultimately stand with the rights of peoples, and land is at the core of these rights."
2:19 PM
Israeli media are quoting the IDF's chief spokesman as saying:

- The number of participants in Gaza has soared to 30,000
- The military has information that a 'terror attack' is planned during the demonstration
- Two of those killed were Hamas 'special forces' members
2:05 PM
Turkey's foreign ministry has lashed Israel for what it described as "disproportionate force" against the protestors massed on the Gaza border.

"We strongly condemn Israel's use of disproportionate force against Palestinians during the peaceful protests today in Gaza," the statement quoted by AFP said.

"It is necessary that Israel rapidly ends use of force that would further raise the tensions in the region," it said. "We are inviting the international community to fulfil its responsibility to convince Israel to give up on its hostile attitude."
2:00 PM
The IDF has also used a drone to fire tear gas toward those along the border from overhead in one of the first uses of the device, a police spokesman said (via AFP).
1:22 PM
Ibrahim Abu Shaar was the eighth Gazan killed on Friday, the Palestinian health ministry said.

Another 456 were wounded in Gaza as reported by the Palestinian Red Crescent.
12:10 PM
The seventh Palestinian to be killed by Israeli fire along the Gaza border has been named by the Gazan health ministry as Mahmoud Saadi Rahmi, a resident of the Strip's east.
12:04 PM
The IDF now says that 20,000 Palestinians are taking part in the protests along the border with Israel.

The military said that across six locations "Palestinians burn tires, throw Molotov cocktails and stones at the fence and IDF forces."
11:59 AM
The IDF said that Hamas sent a seven-year-old girl to the Gaza border, accusing the group of "cynically using women and children and risking their lives."

The army said it made sure she was returned to her parents.
11:26 AM
16-year-old Palestinian Ahmed Ouda was killed, bringing the death toll to five, in addition to 356 who were injured on Friday, the Palestinian health ministry reports.

The total number of those injured includes all who were treated, including for gas inhalation.
10:08 AM
The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) distributed leaflets on Friday in Arabic to Gaza residents warning them, "Anyone who chooses to approach the wall -- puts his life at risk."

The pamphlet added that the residents are being used as a scapegoat for terrorist purposes

"Hamas sacrifices you to develop its meaningless goals instead of spending money for your well-being. DO NOT HAMAS TO USE YOU," it read in highlighted text. "You deserve a better future than the future Hamas has planned for you."
10:00 AM
A 25-year-old Palestinian named Kamal al-Najar from Jabalia was reportedly killed in East Gaza.
9:32 AM
Red Crescent reports 54 Palestinians injured in the Gaza Strip.
9:20 AM

8:30 AM
Thousands of Gazans marching near Israel border in major protest.
8:14 AM
Israel Defense Forces (IDF) shot at main instigators and responded with riot dispersal methods as thousands of Palestinians protest in six different locations along the Gaza border fence, some burning tired and throwing stones.

The IDF said it holds Hamas 'responsible for all the events and their consequences," adding the "terror organization endangers the residents of the Gaza Strip and turns them into cover for terrorist acts."
7:58 AM
Dozens of Palestinians clashed with IDF in the West Bank in Hebron and near the entrance to Ramallah at the Beit El checkpoint. IDF used riot dispersal measures as protesters threw stones and lit tires on fire.
7:53 AM
IDF updates 17,000 Palestinians protested in five locations along the Gaza Strip border, as some threw Molotov cocktails and stones over the fence.
7:29 AM
A third Palestinian was killed in clashes with IDF in the Gaza Strip, Palestinian media reported early Friday afternoon.
7:00 AM
5 Palestinians were reportedly injured in gunfire by Israel Defense Forces in the Gaza Strip amid the mass protests Friday morning.
6:06 AM
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh participates in Gaza protests, saying 'Our people came out today to say to Trump no concession on Jerusalem, no alternative to Palestine and no solution but to return.'
4:05 AM
Israeli shelling killed a Palestinian farmer in Gaza early on Friday, the Palestinian health ministry said, just hours before the launch of mass protests along the border. The ministry identified the dead man as Omar Samour, 27.

A second Palestinian was wounded by tank fire near Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip.