For third week, Palestinian journalists injured by gunfire covering Gaza protests

A Palestinian man looks at the scene of an explosion in the southern Gaza Strip

A Palestinian man looks at the scene of an explosion in the southern Gaza Strip

Hundreds were wounded by Israeli forces over the course of the day, according to the Gaza Ministry of Health, near the borderline between Gaza and Israel on Friday as thousands gathered for the "Great March of Return" on behalf of the besieged enclave's 1.3 million refugees.

Last Friday, about 20,000 Palestinians demonstrated along the Gaza border.

Since the start of the border unrest at the end of March, more than 30 Palestinian rioters have been killed.

Five camps have been set up on Gaza's border with Israel as part of the demonstrations. The demonstrators are demanding their right of return to their ancestral homeland of Palestine.

The deadly use of live ammunition by the Israeli army against demonstrators in Gaza - in defiance of global law - has highlighted the unsparing nature with which Israel has sought to quell a grassroots protest aimed at highlighting the desperate conditions under which Gazans live.

Palestinian organizers have called the series of protests the "Great March of Return" beginning on Land Day, March 30, and continuing until May 15, the 70th anniversary of the "Nakba" - or the "catastrophe" - when 750,000 Palestinians were forced out of their homes and off their land by Israeli forces in 1948.

"We fully support the efforts of Palestinian people in stressing their rights, their return, that their capital is Jerusalem and to oppose the conspiracy deal, the so-called century deal". Gaza has endured a border blockade by Israel and Egypt since Hamas overran the territory in 2007, a year after winning Palestinian parliament elections.

The Israeli authorities have stated that, as a matter of principle, they would not allow people who participated in the protests to exit Gaza in order to receive medical treatment in hospitals in the West Bank or Israel.

The ministry says 406 demonstrators suffered other types of injuries, including being hit by rubber-coated steel pellets and being overcome by tear gas.

The Israeli army responded with gunfire and riot-dispersal means, it said.

The Israeli military has argued that Gaza militant groups are trying to turn the border area into a combat zone, and said it has a right to defend its sovereign border.

The Israeli army said some demonstrators on Friday repeatedly attempted to destroy obstacles that the army had erected. The camp was decked out in Palestinian flags.

At the demonstration, rioters hurled rocks and rolled burning tires near the border fence.

Organizers of the protests have said they are meant to be "nonviolent resistance". In today's briefing to the Security Council, the UN Secretary-General reiterated his deep concern about the clashes and casualties, and called for an independent and transparent investigation into the incident. Since late March, 27 Palestinians were killed in protests.

The Israeli government accuses Hamas, the Islamist terrorist movement rules Gaza, of having instigated the protests and of using them as cover to launch attacks.

Rights groups say the Israeli military's open-fire regulations are unlawful because soldiers can use potentially lethal force against unarmed protesters.

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