Seven Palestinians, including a 12-year-old, were killed and at least 506 others wounded by Israeli soldiers during the 27th round of Friday protests along the Gaza border, according to Palestinian medical sources.
Some of the wounded protesters who required hospitalization were in critical condition, the sources said, noting that 75 of the injured had gunshot wounds, Efe reported.
“More than 20,000 rioters and demonstrators have gathered in several places as part of the violent riots along the security fence on the border of the Gaza strip,” the Israel Defence Forces said in a statement.
Protesters threw grenades, explosive devices and stones at the soldiers, who were “responding with riot-dispersion measures and are firing in accordance with standard operating procedures,” the IDF said, adding that Israeli planes also carried out two airstrikes in northern Gaza.
Palestinian media reported that several protesters managed to cut a section of barbed wire and attack an IDF checkpoint.
The weekly border protests began March 30 as part of the Great March of Return, aimed at demanding the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their former homes inside and pressing the Israelis to end the blockade they imposed on Gaza in 2007.
IDF forces have killed 193 Palestinians in Gaza since the start of the Great March.