More than 500 injured in latest Gaza protests, Palestinian officials say

More than 500 injured in latest Gaza protests, Palestinian officials say

Conricus said Friday that the military is trying to minimize Palestinian casualties, but hadn't changed open-fire regulations.

Mubarak is an active member of the Palestine solidarity movement in Ghana who recently led a pro-Palestine march in Accra.

The ministry says 203 of those hurt were treated at hospitals and the rest at field clinics.

Witnesses told Efe news that at least four Palestinians were injured during morning clashes after the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) fired at dozens of protesters who were reportedly setting Israeli flags ablaze and approaching the fenced border at the city of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip.

The majority of the fatalities occurred during the demonstrations, while 1,236 have suffered from bullet wounds, according to the Hamas-controlled ministry. Smaller groups moved closer to the fence, burning Israeli flags, throwing stones and torching tires. "An order to open live fire at unarmed protesters is manifestly unlawful", it said.

Israel blames Hamas and Islamic Jihad for the violence, and has said those killed were "known terrorists".

Israeli soldiers are firing tear gas and live bullets from across the border fence.

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By Friday afternoon, the Health Ministry in Gaza said 701 protesters had been injured. Since late March, 27 Palestinians have been killed and hundreds wounded by army fire during such rallies.

On Friday, most of the demonstrators assembled in five tent camps several hundred metres from the border fence. One man threw a burning tire into the fence, while another was seen walking nearby with the help of a crutch.

The Israeli military say demonstrators also hurled an explosive device and several fire bombs near the fence.

The first two Fridays - with far less on intervening days - saw tens of thousands gather near the border with Israel at five locations.

The protests, planned to last six weeks, are calling for Palestinian refugees to return to their former homes that are now inside Israel - which Israelis say essentially amounts to calling for the country's destruction.

Israel's military estimated that about 10 000 Palestinians participated in protests Friday, saying it was a lower turnout than in the previous two weeks.

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