Tens of thousands protest at Gaza-Israel border

Tens of thousands protest at Gaza-Israel border

GAZA CITY- Agence France-Presse
Tens of thousands protest at Gaza-Israel border

Tens of thousands of Gazans gathered at the Israeli border on March 30 to mark a year since protests and clashes erupted there, testing a fragile truce only 10 days ahead of an Israeli general election.

A 17-year-old Palestinian was killed by Israeli fire in clashes east of Gaza City, the Gazan health ministry said, while 59 were wounded, including 13 from live fire.

Earlier, another Palestinian was killed by Israeli fire in an overnight demonstration ahead of the main protest, the ministry said.

Egypt had sought to mediate between Israel and Gaza's rulers Hamas to rein in violence and avoid the sort of deadly response from the Israeli army that has accompanied past protests.

Clashes so far appeared limited, but warnings to stay far back from the heavily fortified fence that marks the border were not being heeded by all.

"We will move towards the borders even if we die," said Yusef Ziyada, 21, his face painted in the colors of the Palestinian flag.

"We are not leaving. We are returning to our land."

Dozens of Palestinians were seen approaching the border fence east of Jabalia in the northern Gaza Strip at around midday before retreating as Israeli troops fired tear gas.

The protesters threw stones at the Israeli soldiers and burnt tires.

Further south, an Egyptian security delegation visited a protest site east of Gaza City. Hamas leader Ismail Haniya also visited the site.

The city's mosques used loudspeakers to call on people to attend, and buses shuttled protesters to sites in rainy weather.

Protesters were marking the first anniversary of often violent weekly demonstrations in which around 200 Palestinians and an Israeli soldier have been killed.

The anniversary comes only days after another severe flare-up of violence between Israel and Hamas. An Egyptian-brokered ceasefire restored calm.

The timing is especially sensitive for Israel, which holds a keenly contested general election on April 9 in which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faces a stiff challenge from centrist former military chief Benny Gantz.