Israeli troops kill two Palestinians as new clashes break out in Gaza

GAZA – Israeli troops shot dead two Palestinians and wounded dozens others in renewed unrest on the Gaza-Israel border on Friday as a series of mass protests entered fourth week.

The shootings came as thousands of Palestinians gathered on Gaza’s border with Israel, with some burning tyres or flying kites which carried flaming rags.

Gaza’s health ministry said 40 people were injured, but did not say how many were wounded by gunfire or overcome by tear gas.

In the first incidents on Friday, two Palestinians were killed in clashes with the Israeli Army along the defensive barrier between Gaza and Israel, while another 40 people were wounded.

In other areas of friction along the demarcation line, eyewitnesses on the scene said young Palestinians launched kites with molotov cocktails attached, in an effort to start fires in Israeli territory, as in recent days.

Palestinian journalist shot dead by Israeli forces during Gaza border protests

Israeli aircraft dropped leaflets in Arabic on Gaza Friday morning, calling on the population to “avoid approaching the defensive barrier”. “We strongly recommend you not participate in acts of violence against Israeli forces and keep away from the terrorists. Hamas is using you as a tool for its interests. Our soldiers will do everything necessary to block attacks or assaults”.

Hamas, which is sworn to Israel’s destruction, denies this.

The Friday’s killings bring the death toll in the past few weeks of protests to at least 33. Several hundred people have also been wounded by Israeli sharpshooters.

More than 2 million Palestinians are packed into the narrow coastal enclave. Israel withdrew its troops and settlers from Gaza in 2005 but maintains tight control of its land and sea borders. Egypt also restricts movement in and out of Gaza on its border.

The protest campaign, dubbed The Great March of Return, is leading up to May 15, when Palestinians mark Nakba Day, or the Day of Catastrophe, commemorating their displacement around the time of Israel’s founding in 1948.

The protests have been staged every Friday for the past month to push demands for Palestinian refugees to regain ancestral homes in what is now Israel. They are expected to culminate on May 15.