GAZA — A demonstration by thousands of Palestinians near the Israeli border fence on Saturday against the Israeli-Egyptian blockade turned tense as several people suffered injuries and Israeli forces fired live rounds and tear gas as crowds approached the perimeter.
Hours before the rally began, the Gaza Health Ministry said a Palestinian man, Mohammed Saad, 21, had been shot and killed by Israeli forces at a protest camp near the fence. The Israeli military had no immediate comment.
The mass rally was to cap a year of demonstrations against the blockade imposed after Hamas took control of the territory in 2007.
Dozens of volunteers in fluorescent vests were deployed to restrain demonstrators from getting too close to the border fence. Ambulances lined up in front of clinics and the police supervised encampments erected far from the fence.
Some protesters, however, started approaching the barrier, prompting Israeli forces to respond with tear gas. Marchers also burned a few tires.
Health officials said 33 Palestinians had been injured as the protests along the border fence began. Gaza’s Health Ministry said 10 people had suffered injuries from live fire coming from Israeli troops.
The Israeli Army said it had responded with riot dispersal means and live fire “in accordance with standard operating procedures.”
The army said that some 20,000 Palestinians had gathered along the Gaza fence, and that protesters had hurled stones and explosive devices at the fence and had set tires ablaze.
It added that most of the demonstrators remained in encampments away from the border fence.
The militant group Hamas, which governs the territory, had hoped that a calmer demonstration would allow for an Egyptian-brokered agreement with Israel to be put in place to ease the economic blockade that has been imposed on the Gaza Strip since 2007.
Fouad Aishan, 40, came with his five children to the frontier. He said he planned to show his children the Israeli soldiers and return to safety before the march started.
“I come here driven by personal national motivation,” he said. “It has nothing to do with what the politicians do.”
In 2018, weeks of demonstrations that began in March turned deadly, with Israeli soldiers firing across the fence and killing more than 115 Palestinians, according to Gaza health officials. Among then was Razan al-Najjar, 20, a volunteer emergency medical worker.
Israel said then that the protesters were being used as cover by militants who intended to attack its soldiers and nearby communities.
In Geneva, the United Nations Human Rights Council voted overwhelmingly to censure Israel.
Egypt has been trying to broker a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas. Palestinians with knowledge of the talks have said that as part of the proposed deal, Gaza protesters were to keep away from the fence on Saturday and Israeli snipers were to hold their fire.