Israeli soldiers killed three Palestinians — including an 11-year-old boy — and wounded at least 30 others taking part on Friday in weekly protests at the fortified Gaza Strip border, Palestinian medical officials said.
The Israeli military said it used force necessary to prevent border breaches by some 12,000 Palestinians who massed at several points near the fence, some of them hurling rocks and firebombs at troops under cover of smoke from burning tires.
Friday’s dead, one of them a boy whom medics said appeared to be around 14 years old, brought to 177 the number of Palestinians killed since the sometimes violent protests were launched on March 30 to press several demands against Israel.
The period has also seen occasional shelling exchanges between Gaza’s Islamist Hamas rulers and Israel. An Israeli soldier was killed by a Gaza sniper and Israel has lost tracts of forest and farmland to cross-border incendiary attacks.
Israel’s tactics against the protests have drawn foreign condemnation, though Washington has backed its ally in accusing Hamas of staging the mass-mobilization to distract from Gaza’s poverty and governance problems and to provide cover for armed Palestinian border incursions. Hamas has denied this.