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Gaza ministry says gunfire at protest wounds 122

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Four Palestinian militants dead in Gaza blast

As Friday protests resumed near the border fence between Gaza and Israel, occupation forces opened fire injuring at least 30 more Palestinians and killing two.

Israeli forces have shot dead at least 31 Palestinians, including a journalist, and wounded many hundreds since the protests began, drawing global criticism of the lethal tactics used against the protesters. The Israeli military has been on high alert along the Gaza border since March 25th, dispatching reinforcements from infantry, armoured corps and combat intelligence units, alongside special forces, sappers and snipers. According to the Ministry of Health in Gaza, some 1,236 people have been hit by live ammunition. The protests already have resulted in dozens killed and thousands injured. In the northern Gaza Strip, Sumaya Abu Awad, 36, attended the protest with her three daughters and son.

On Friday, most of the demonstrators assembled in five tent camps located several hundred metres from the border fence.

Israeli forces fired tear gas, rubber-coated steel pellets and live rounds. The crowds were smaller than last week but Israeli officials said the protesters again ignored warnings not to encroach on the fence, with some throwing petrol bombs and stones and trying to damage security infrastructure. Israeli soldiers used large fans in a bid to push the smoke away.

The marches are organized by Gaza's Islamic militant Hamas, but turnout is also being driven by desperation among the territory's 2 million residents.

Gaza has been under an Israeli blockade for a decade and unemployment is approaching 50 percent.

Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Friday "there are fewer riots on our border", adding that "our resolve is well-understood on the other side".

Palestinians react at a hospital following an explosion in the southern Gaza Strip
Palestinians react at a hospital following an explosion in the southern Gaza Strip

"We want to live like everyone else in the world", said 37-year-old construction worker Omar Hamada, an unemployed father of eight.

The Gaza Health Ministry said more than 500 protesters were injured, 122 of them by gunshots.

It said soldiers fire live bullets as a last resort, in a "precise and measured manner".

Denouncing Israel's "horrifying use of live ammunition against unarmed protesters", Mughrabi also noted that "under worldwide law, lethal force can only be used when unavoidable to protect against imminent threats to life".

The Israeli military and officials have repeatedly said they will not allow any breach of the fence, and that those who do not abide by the rules of engagement will be shot.

Israeli media reports have said Egypt, one of only two Arab countries to have signed a peace treaty with the Jewish state, had been negotiating with Hamas to seek to calm the crisis, but there has been no confirmation.

The group has been criticised in Israel for publishing often anonymous testimony by current or former Israeli soldiers who have misgivings about their military service and treatment of Palestinians.

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