One killed, hundreds injured in third week of Gaza protests

TEL AVIV, Eliyahu Kamisher (dpa)- One Palestinian protestor was killed and hundreds injured by live ammunition and teargas fired by Israeli troops, as demonstrations in the Gaza Strip extended to a third straight Friday, albeit in smaller numbers than previous weeks.
Since March 30, 35 Palestinians, including a journalist, have died from Israeli fire, the Palestinian Health Ministry said.

The majority of the fatalities occurred during the demonstrations, while 1,236 have suffered from bullet wounds, according to the Hamas-controlled ministry. Some of those killed were militants, the Israeli army said.
By Friday afternoon, in the latest round of demonstrations in several locations in the Gaza enclave, the Health Ministry said more than 700 protesters were injured, including 175 by live fire.
The protests, set to last in all for six weeks, are demanding the right for refugees and their descendants - the majority of Gaza's nearly 2 million people - to return to homes they fled or were expelled from during the 1948 Israeli-Arab war.
Rights groups have argued Israel's use of force is not proportionate and illegal.
"The Israeli authorities must put an immediate end to the excessive and lethal force being used to suppress Palestinian demonstrations in Gaza," Amnesty International said. The human rights groups said evidence shows some protesters killed were unarmed.
"We shoot only when we need to shoot. We work according to a a very organized set of orders. I don't know there is any other place in the world that is more exact than here," an Israeli military official said, asking not to be named according to army protocol.
"There's an attempt to delegitimize our snipers, our snipers are great," he said.
During the mass protests the majority of the demonstrators stay away from the border fence, instead having picnics and partaking in cultural activities.
Meanwhile groups of mostly young men push towards the fence and hurl rocks.
According to Israel, which says it only fires upon "main instigators," Palestinians have hurled firebombs and planted explosives along the border.
Demonstrators burned thousands of tires last week and are expected to burn hundreds of Israeli flags during Friday's protest.
The latest protests - which Israel says attracted some 10,000 participants, down about half off the previous week - saw demonstrators waving many dozen Palestinian national flags.
Israel has said that Hamas, the Islamist group which much of the West considers a terrorist organization, is using the protests as a distraction to carry out attacks on Israeli security infrastructure.

Saturday, April 14th 2018
Eliyahu Kamisher (dpa)

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