GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip – Hundreds of Palestinians gathered on the Gaza Strip fence with Israel on Friday, trying to get through it before firing the Israeli fire in one of the most violent incidents so far in. Three Palestinians were killed and dozens were injured.
The violence came shortly after a senior UN official urged Israel to refrain from using excessive force against protesters.
At least 38 protesters have been killed by Israeli live fire and more than 1,600 injured in the weekly protests since it began on March 30. Israel has rejected international criticism, saying it is defending its sovereign border and accusing Hamas leaders in Gaza, who organize the protests, of using the crowd as a cover to carry out attacks.
In the turmoil on Friday, a large crowd gathered a few hundred meters from the border, with some throwing stones and setting fire to the tires in what has become a weekly occurrence.
Late in the afternoon, dozens of young people separated from the larger protest, moving south about 200 meters and approaching the fence. The crowd tried to break the fence with hooks and pliers when Israeli forces opened fire. Witnesses said three protesters crossed briefly to Israel and returned.
Hundreds of additional protesters rushed to the scene, and the numbers quickly grew to several thousand. Israeli armored vehicles accelerated the site and fired tear gas bombs. When the shots exploded, the crowd dispersed. A dozen Palestinian ambulances clogged a dirt road that lined up to evacuate the wounded. Some in the crowd shouted "shahid" or "martyr" while the bodies were carried on stretchers.
Palestinian health officials reported that three people were killed and 611 injured, including 138 affected by real fire in incidents along the border throughout the day.
In a statement, the Israeli army said it had "frustrated" an infiltration attempt by Palestinian protesters.
He said that "hundreds of rioters" tried to burn the fence and enter Israel. He said the crowd threw explosives, firebombs and rocks, and that the troops opened fire "in accordance with the rules of engagement" and detained the crowd. He released a video showing a young Palestinian man placing a lit tire along the fence in an apparent attempt to set him on fire. In another, a small group throws stones at an Israeli military vehicle on the other side of the fence.
In other incidents, the army said that Palestinian crowds rolled tires, threw stones and flew kites with flaming objects tied in order to damage the fence and other Israeli targets. He also released a photo that shows a group of young people pulling barbed wire along the fence.
The marches, intended in part to try to break a border blockade a decade ago, have been organized by the militant Hamas rulers of Gaza, but have also been driven by widespread desperation in the coastal territory of 2 million of people.
Gaza organizers say the marches also push for the "right of return" of the refugees and their descendants to what is now Israel. Two thirds of the residents of Gaza are descendants of refugees who fled or were expelled from the properties during the war that surrounded the creation of Israel in 1948. The protests will culminate on May 15, the anniversary of the creation of Israel. Hamas organizers have made contradictory statements about whether they plan a massive rape of the border at some point.
Hamas supreme leader Ismail Haniyeh visited a protest camp in the southern city of Rafah, promising larger protests in Gaza, the West Bank, Israel and among Palestinian refugees in other countries on May 15. "Our people will not delay the protests until they obtain their rights," he said.
The Israeli army has repeatedly said that it will not allow Gazans to burst across the border. The Israeli communities are located only a few hundred meters away.
However, Israel has received strong international criticism for allegedly using excessive force.
Zeid Ra & # 39; ad Al Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said that Israeli troops have not heeded the warnings of the United Nations and others, repeatedly using lethal force against unarmed demonstrators in the last month.
Gaza health officials say four children, including a 14-year-old boy, have been among the dead.  "The loss of life is deplorable, and the staggering number of injuries caused by live ammunition only confirms the feeling that excessive force has been used against the demonstrators, not once, not twice, but repeatedly," he said. commissioned [19659002TheAmbassadorofIsraelintheUnitedNationsandIranwhosaysthat"Israelisdefendeddiligently"andsaidhecouldencourage"exploitationofcivilians"byHamasThecommission"doesnotfocusonhumanrightsifitcriticizesIsrael" Thousands of people participated in Friday's demonstrations from five protest camps, each one hundreds of meters from the border fence. . Small groups usually move towards the fence, burning tires to obstruct the view of security forces while others throw stones or incendiary bombs.
Israeli soldiers, including snipers who cover themselves behind sand berms, responded by firing tear gas, rubber-coated steel shot and live rounds.
The Israeli army has said that the troops have orders to attack the "instigators", but has also warned that anyone who approaches or attempts to damage the fence risks their lives.
Rights groups have said that such open fire rules are illegal because they allow soldiers to use potentially lethal force in situations where their lives are not in danger.
Israeli officials have said that some of the protesters in recent weeks tried to damage the border fence or plant explosives along it. Others have tried to burn Israeli fields on the other side of the fence by throwing improvised explosives or incendiary bombs, or flying the burning kites.
A group of Palestinian activists calling themselves "the tire unit" arrived on Friday in a truck loaded with old tires. A truck mounted with loudspeakers followed the truck with songs and applause. The tires were burned, filling the air with thick smoke. With hooks and a long rope, the activists pulled the barbed wire parts adjacent to the fence.
Israel and Egypt imposed the blockade of Gaza in 2007, in response to the violent seizure of territory by Hamas, which had won Palestinian parliamentary elections a year earlier. The blockade has destroyed Gaza's economy, increasing unemployment and leaving two thirds of young people unemployed.
The Hamas Interior Ministry announced that Egypt had agreed to open the Rafah border crossing for three days, starting on Saturday. The temporary opening is the second this month.