Israeli troops killed four Palestinians and wounded hundreds of others on Friday with live fire or tear gas used against protesters at the Gaza border, medics said, while Israel said militants had attacked its forces with guns and grenades.
Organizers linked the protests to annual “Jerusalem Day” events in Iran, which like Gaza’s dominant Hamas Islamists preaches Israel’s destruction and was incensed by the U.S. recognition in December of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital.
“There is no such state called Israel that could have a capital called Jerusalem,” Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said.
He said the Gaza demonstrations, launched on March 30, would continue until Palestinians achieve their demand for a right of return to ancestral lands lost to Israel in the 1948 war of its creation.
Israel, with U.S. support, has described the protests as a ploy by Hamas to breach its border, and says that its lethal tactics have been necessary to prevent that. At least 124 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli army fire, medics say.
On Friday the army said in a statement it had repelled around 10,000 Palestinians who converged on five points of the border. Some of them threw rocks and burned tires.
At one location, at least two Palestinians fired guns at an army post, while others threw grenades or used helium balloons and kites to fly explosives over the border, the army said.
There have been no Israeli casualties from the more than two months of confrontations along the Gaza border.