Israeli war jets struck Hamas naval forces military targets with six missiles on Friday night west of the central Gaza Strip city of Deir el Ballah, Hamas security officials said.
Israel has accused Hamas, the militant group that controls Gaza, of using the protests as an excuse to launch attacks on Israel.
The ongoing “Great Return March” protests which started on Palestinian Land Day (March 30) are meant to bring attention to the fact that millions of Palestinians are imprisoned in the Gaza Strip, unable to return to their homes in what is now Israel.
Israel uses snipers positioned behind the border fence.
A group of young men broke from the larger protest and rushed the barricade separating Gaza from Israel. The crowd then tried to break through the fence with hooks and wire cutters when Israeli forces opened fire. The IDF responded by opening fire, allegedly killing a protester.
There were no immediate details on injuries, but ambulances rushed to the scene and took away dozens of wounded. The Gazan health ministry said that over 600 people were wounded on Friday.
“Yes, they go to the border fence; yes, they throw stones; yes, they throw Molotov cocktails, but you’re dealing with one of the best equipped armies in the world”, she said.
The army added that more than 10,000 Palestinians participated in Friday’s events, saying “attempts have been made to harm security infrastructure, roll burning tires, hurl rocks and fly kites with flaming objects attached to them”.
He said the incident was notable in the number of protesters, the speed they moved and the “audacity with which they attacked”. Israel has an obligation to protect its citizens, he said, “and we will do so while minimizing casualties to the other side”.
The protest action revives a longstanding demand for the right of return of Palestinian refugees to towns and villages that their families fled from or were driven out of when the state of Israel was founded in 1948.
Earlier this week, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said that protests will continue after May 15 and into the month of Ramadan.
For the last four weeks, tens of thousands of Palestinians in Gaza have converged on the fence to protest the long-standing blockade of the enclave.
“We say to Nikki Haley, to Netanyahu, to the criminal Lieberman” – referring to the United States ambassador to the United Nations, the Israeli prime minister and Israel’s defense minister, Avigdor Lieberman – “we are afraid neither of death nor of martyrdom”, Mr. Radwan said.