Gaza City: Israeli forces killed eight Palestinians as thousands protested and clashes erupted along the Gaza border on Friday.
Gaza’s health ministry also reported that some 408 Palestinians had been taken to hospitals and medical centres for treatment.
The dead included a 16-year-old, it said.
At least six journalists were shot and wounded, according to a statement from the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate. A spokeswoman for the Israeli army had no immediate comment on the statement.
Palestinians burned mounds of tyres and threw stones at Israeli soldiers over the border fence, who responded with tear gas and live fire.
Israel said there were also attempts to break through the barrier.
Thousands of protesters — Israel estimated 20,000 — gathered in locations near the border east of Khan Yunis, in the south of the blockaded Palestinian enclave, and east of Gaza City, among other spots.
The number of protesters was however lower than last week, when a demonstration by tens of thousands led to clashes in which Israeli forces killed 19 Palestinians.
The tyre fires were meant to be a smokescreen from Israeli snipers, and thick black smoke covered the border area in some places.
Israeli forces took up positions on the other side of the border and set up large fans in a bid to push away smoke.
They also used water cannon to try to douse flames.
Hamas’s leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, hailed the protests and condemned Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip.
“They said Gaza would give up its principles, its project of liberation and (dream) of return if they starve it, but Gaza is coming out today,” he said to protesters east of Khan Yunis.
He referred to the protest’s call for Palestinian refugees to be able to return to land they fled or were expelled from in what is now Israel.
Sinwar said Gazans would “break the border and return to our land and pray in Jerusalem.”
Israel’s military said some 20,000 Palestinians were “rioting” and “attempts were made to infiltrate into Israel under the cover of a smoke screen.”
It also said explosive devices and firebombs were thrown, adding that soldiers opened fire “in accordance with the rules of engagement.”
Israeli army spokesman Brigadier General Ronen Manelis defined the day’s events as a success.
“None of our troops were wounded, the border was not crossed,” he said, noting that what happened last week had “deterred Hamas, which prevented the masses from approaching the (border) fence.”
Story first published: 7th April 2018