GAZA, March 8 (Xinhua) — One Palestinian was killed and at least 42 demonstrators injured on Friday by Israeli soldiers’ gunfire during clashes in eastern Gaza Strip, close to the border with Israel, medics said.
Tamer Arafat, a 23-year-old man from the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah, was critically wounded earlier in the afternoon, and succumbed to his sustained wounds, said Ashraf al-Qedra, spokesman of the Health Ministry in Gaza.
Al-Qedra added that 42 others were injured by Israeli soldiers’ gunfire all over the Gaza Strip, including two women, 15 children, four paramedics and two journalists.
The clashes between Gaza demonstrators and Israeli soldiers near the border between eastern Gaza Strip and Israel are part of the weekly anti-Israel rallies and protests, better known as the “Great March of Return.”
Since March 30 last year, thousands of Gaza demonstrators have been carrying out rallies and protests, calling on Israel to end the blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip since 2007.
The highest commission of the event on early Friday called on the people to join the protests to mark the International Women’s Day.
The demonstrators gathered on Friday afternoon in eastern Gaza Strip, close to the fence of the border with Israel, waved Palestinian flags, burned tires, chanted anti-Israel slogans and threw stones at the soldiers stationed on the border.
Eyewitnesses and paramedics said that the soldiers fired dozens of tear gas canisters and opened fire at the crowds of the demonstrators to prevent them from reaching the barbed wire of the fence of the border.
The clashes broke out while dozens of arson balloons carrying explosives were released from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel. No injuries were reported, according to Israel Radio.
Health Ministry officials said that since the outbreak of the weekly protests and rallies last March 30, the Israeli army has shot dead more than 260 Palestinians and wounded more than 29,000 others. Around 40 percent of them were injured by live ammunition.
Islamic Hamas movement’s spokesman in Gaza Abdulatif al-Qanoua said in a statement that the protests will go on until they reach goals, adding “the occupation (Israel) has no other choices but to end the siege.”
A senior Egyptian security intelligence delegation, which departed from Gaza on Friday, has been holding talks with Hamas and other factions’ leaders over calm with Israel.
Hamas movement said in a press statement after the delegation left the Gaza Strip that the coming week “will witness an intensive diplomatic activity related to ending the Israeli siege imposed on the Gaza Strip.”
“Several delegations will visit the Gaza Strip next week under the frame of a mutual communication to break the siege and to relax the suffering and the hard living situation that its people are passing through,” said the statement.
Egypt, the United Nations and Qatar have been mediating between Israel and Palestinian factions, including Hamas movement, to achieve calm on the border between eastern Gaza Strip and Israel.