LIVE BLOG: Four Palestinians killed by Israeli fire during Gaza border clashes
Mohammed ABED (AFP)
Four Palestinians were shot dead by Israeli fire on Friday as violence spiked in now regular clashes with the Israeli army along the Gaza border.
Some 10,000 participants turned out to mark the "Naksa" or "the setback", which commemorates the 1967 Six-Day War where Israel captured swathes of land from Jordan and Egypt, including the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza.
According to the Palestinian health ministry in Gaza, 127 Palestinians have been killed since the “Great March of Return” demonstrations began on March 30.
Israel says it troops strictly adhere to live fire regulations and only open fire to prevent a mass border breach. A senior officer told i24NEWS on Thursday that only 30-40 of those killed were done so on purpose.
On Friday, it said participants hurled explosives at troops and sent a number of "fire kites" into Israel, although no major blazes broke out as a result and many of them were downed by small drones.
The army said militants inside the impoverished enclave also fired shots at Israeli troops, hitting one position but not causing any injures.
In addition to the four deaths, over 600 Palestinians were injured, with at least eight remaining in a serious condition at the end of the night. The Palestinian health ministry said well over a hundred were injured by live fire.
Ahead of Friday’s expected protests in Gaza, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) dropped leaflets across the Hamas-ruled territory, warning the Palestinian residents of partaking in any destructive activities such as damaging the border fence and carrying out acts of terror.
"The use of live ammunition against journalists covering the Gaza protests shows how little regard Israel has for their safety," CPJ's Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Sherif Mansour said.
The organization said a further two Palestinian journalists were injured on Friday.
According to the paper, additionally Iron Dome missile defense systems have been deployed near the border.
Mohammed Abed al-Baba, who has worked for AFP in Gaza since 2000, said he was shot in the leg while wearing a clearly identified press vest and helmet around 200 meters (yards) from the border east of Jabalia in northern Gaza.
He also wrote that "despite the great efforts of Hamas and Iran", fewer and fewer "terrorists" are participating in the protests.
The ministry identified him as Yousef El-Faseih, 29.
"A short time ago, terrorists fired at our forces in the northern Gaza Strip. A hit on a position was identified. None of our forces were injured."
It puts the number of injured at 618. One of those is in a 'very critical' condition (likely the man who was revived) and eight as serious.
117 were injured by live bullets so far, the ministry says.
It still says 10,000 are taking part in the demonstration, and that "over the last few hours, terrorists launched dozens of kites and balloons with explosive devices attached to them over the fence."
"In addition, a number of explosive devices and a grenade have been hurled and tires have been set on fire at the riot locations next to the security fence," the statement continues.
He is still in a critical condition, however.
Karam Ibrahim Abu Arafat, 26, was shot east of Khan Younis.
Imad Nabil Abu Drabi, 26 was shot east of Bureij refugee camp and Haitham Mohammed Khalil al-Jamal, 15, who was shot easy of Khan Younis.
The man, identified by the ministry as Ziad Abdulqader al-Buraem.