Clashes break out with Israeli soldiers in eastern Gaza

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GAZA: Clashes broke out Friday afternoon between dozens of Palestinian demonstrators and Israeli soldiers in eastern Gaza Strip on the fifth Friday of a six-week protest, known as “the Great March of Return,” eyewitnesses said.

Paramedics said that the soldiers fired dozens of tear gas canisters to disperse the demonstrators who burned tires to make shields of black smoke that would protect them from the fire of Israeli snipers.

The clashes broke out after demonstrators walked closer to the fence of the border between eastern Gaza Strip and Israel, where dozens of Israeli soldiers and snipers were seen at the other side of the border into Israel.

The witnesses said that demonstrators threw stones at the Israeli armed forces, where soldiers fired back tear gas and rubber-coated metal bullets. No injuries were reported, according to the paramedics, who are in the area with ambulances and first aid.

Earlier Friday, thousands of Palestinians were preparing for the rallies this week called “Friday of angry youths.”

The rallies, starting from March 30, will last until May 15 and are held in five areas in eastern Gaza Strip, several hundred meters far from the fence of the border with Israel.

Over the past four Fridays, 42 Palestinians have been killed and around 5,000 injured; many with live ammunition. The health authority said 40 killed people have been recorded in register, while two corpses are held by the Israeli army.

The health ministry in Gaza announced in a press statement that it had sent medical workers to the area in eastern Gaza Strip in case of emergency and more casualties during the protests.

Hamas activists called on the people Friday morning throughout mosques’ loudspeakers to join the rallies and the symbolic funeral of Fadi al Batsh, a Hamas scientist who was killed in Malaysia by unknown militants last Saturday.

The Israeli army, meanwhile, announced Friday that it had sent more forces to the border area to prevent Palestinian protesters from infiltrating into Israel.

Witnesses said that masked young men Friday morning managed to cut through the fence of the border east of Jabalia town in northern Gaza Strip.