Gaza marks Eid al-Fitr with protests at border
Hundreds of Palestinian worshippers performed the traditional morning Eid prayers metres away from the heavily guarded fence with Israel, joining millions of Muslims around the world in marking the end of the fasting month Ramadan.
Eid al-Fitr, a three-day celebration that follows the month of Ramadan began on Friday, and is traditionally a time of family gatherings and festive meals shared.
Friday's prayers marked the continuation of a wave of Palestinian protests that broke out on March 30 against Israel's crippling decade-long blockade of Gaza.
Over 130 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since protests began eleven weeks ago, the majority of which were killed near the border as troops use lethal force to prevent any infiltration attempts.
Senior Hamas leader, Ismail Haniyeh, joined the worshippers in an area east of Gaza City. Speaking to reporters after Friday prayers, Haniyeh said that protests would continue.
He added that a recent UN General Assembly resolution blaming Israel for the Gaza violence "shows that the marches of return and breaking the siege revived the Palestinian issue and imposed the issue on the international agenda."
The resolution also said Israel had used excessive force against Palestinian protesters.
Protest organisers plan to release large numbers of kites and balloons with incendiary material rags throughout the day, the latest protest tactic allowing Gazan protesters to inflict some economic losses on Israel, while remaining far enough from the border to avoid being shot by Israeli forces.
No one has been hurt by the fires, but some 2,250 acres of fields and nature reserves have been burned by flames stoked by Mediterranean winds, causing $2.5 million in damage, Israel's government has claimed.
Protest organiser Mohammed al-Tayyar, a member of a group calling itself the "burning kites unit," said Friday larger balloons with greater potential for damage would be released after ten days unless the blockade is lifted.
Israel's defence minister has said Israel is determined to stop such kites and balloons.Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan also said Israeli snipers should shoot the kite flyers.
"I expect the IDF (Israeli army) to handle these kite-flyers exactly as they would any terrorist, and the IDF's targeted assassinations must also apply to these kite-flyers."