2 killed as thousands gather at Gaza-Israel border

GAZA CITY, GAZA STRIP-Three Palestinian demonstrators were killed and more than 300 were injured in clashes with the Israeli army on the Gaza border since Friday night, the Gaza Health Ministry said Saturday.

The rocket attack threatens to undermine Egyptian-mediated efforts to cement a deal that the Gaza Strip's Hamas rulers hope will ease a crippling Israeli-Egyptian blockage of the crowded territory.

The IDF closed the two crossings last week, in response to Palestinian rocket fire from Gaza that destroyed a home in central Israel.

Four Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire, one during a demonstration ahead of the main rally and three 17-year-olds in clashes later on Saturday, the health ministry in Gaza City said.

Dozens of Palestinians were seen approaching the border fence east of Jabalia in the northern Gaza Strip at around midday (0900 GMT) before retreating as Israeli troops fired tear gas. "We're waiting for timelines and clear programs [from Israel] for the implementation of the understandings reached between the resistance groups and the occupation", said Hamas spokesman Abdel Latif al-Qanou.

We have made a decision to peacefully mobilize to enforce global resolutions, beginning with UN Resolution 194 regarding the return of Palestinian refugees to their homes and lands. "We will continue our marches until all our goals are achieved", he said.

The campaign has been organised by the militant Hamas movement - which dominates Gaza and is designated a terrorist group by Israel - and other groups.

"There are about 5,500 rioters gathered at several locations along the fence", the Israeli army said at around 1 pm (1000 GMT).

On top of the 18-year-old medic, Israel's military reportedly murdered another 17-year-old Palestinian and injured around 200 more on 30 March.

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Israel says it is defending its border, but has come under heavy worldwide criticism for the large number of unarmed Palestinian demonstrators who have been shot over the past 12 months. Israeli troops fired rubber bullets and tear gas at about 150 demonstrators.

The Israeli military said it had not heard of any such incident. With a lack of alternatives, Netanyahu has been forced at times to rely on Hamas to maintain stability along Israel's volatile southern front.

Yet after a year of weekly protests during which Israel has exacted a horrifying toll on unarmed civilians, Palestinians in Gaza demonstrated once again on Saturday their determination not to allow the world to forget them and leave them to their fate at Israel's hands.

The fence protests, which began exactly a year ago, have been aimed in large part at breaking the Israeli-Egyptian blockade on Gaza, but haven't delivered major improvements.

The ministry said 21-year-old Mohammed Saad was shot early Saturday at a protest camp near the fence.

The border protests have turned into a standoff between Gazans hurling rocks and explosives and Israeli troops across the border.

Protesters are crying out against what they call the siege of Gaza.

Hundreds of Palestinian men, some from Hamas, were deployed in bright orange vests to deter people from going near the fence.

The week before the anniversary saw a flare-up of cross-border violence after a rocket fired from Gaza wounded seven Israelis north of Tel Aviv on Monday.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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