Palestinians wounded at Gaza-Israel border protests

Palestinian Ambassador to the United Nations Riyad Mansour speaks to reporters

Both sides are bracing for Palestinian demonstrations at the Gaza border on Friday - the third round of weekly protests that are scheduled to peak in mid-May, the 70th anniversary of Israel's founding. The protests, planned to last six weeks, are calling for Palestinian refugees to return to their former homes that are now inside Israel - which Israelis say essentially amounts to calling for the country's destruction.

The debate over Israel's open-fire regulations has intensified with a rising number of dead and wounded since the first protests March 30.

Gaza's Health Ministry says 363 Palestinians have been injured by Israeli fire or treated for tear gas inhalation in mass protests on the Gaza-Israel border.

The injuries were sustained during a mass protest Friday on Gaza's sealed border with Israel, the third in as many consecutive Fridays.

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The White House has called on Palestinians to engage in exclusively peaceful protests and stay at least 500 meters from Gaza's border with Israel. The spokesperson for the Israeli Defense Forces has confirmed that Israeli troops are deploying tear gas and using live fire in order to disperse protesters at five points along the security fence. Smaller groups moved closer to the fence, throwing stones, torching tires and burning large Israeli flags.

On Thursday, the IDF said it bombed Hamas military targets in the Gaza Strip, after an explosive device detonated near an Israeli army vehicle along the border on Wednesday. When gunmen shot at the aircraft, they were fired upon, the Israeli army said.

Rights groups have strongly criticized Israeli forces while pointing to unverified videos that have spread online of Gazans appearing to be shot, including one seeming to show a Palestinian targeted as he ran away from the fence while holding a tire.

In the camp, 37-year-old construction worker Omar Hamada said he is protesting to draw world attention to Gaza and get the border reopened. Israel says this is vital to prevent Hamas - which has fought three rounds of conflict against Israel since seizing Gaza, firing thousands of rockets into Israel and digging dozens of attack tunnels under the border - from importing weaponry.

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The Israeli government accuses Hamas, the Islamist movement that has ruled Gaza largely since Israeli soldiers and settlers withdrew in 2005, of having instigated the protests and of using them as cover to launch attacks.

The Israeli rights group B'Tselem said Friday that open-fire policy must not be dictated by worst case scenarios, such as a feared mass breach of the border.

On Friday, hundreds flocked to one of five camps near Gaza City, stepping on a large Israeli flag laid out on the ground at the entrance.

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