Israeli troops injure 20 Palestinians at Gaza border
About 20 Palestinians were injured when Israeli forces fired on protesters at Gaza's border on Wednesday, medical sources said, but the protest was more muted than a weekend demonstration that left dozens wounded.
The Israeli army reinforced its positions on Gaza's border following Saturday's border violence, which killed a 32-year-old Palestinian and seriously injured an Israeli soldier.
There were indications that Hamas, who have ruled the Israeli-besieged strip since 2007, wanted to prevent Wednesday's protest from escalating.
Hamas security personnel formed a human chain seeking to prevent Palestinians from approaching the border fence, although clashes with Israeli troops erupted when some people broke through the barrier, an AFP reporter said.
Gaza medical sources said the Israelis fired live rounds at the protesters, causing injuries.
Israel's army claimed on Twitter that roughly 1,000 "rioters and demonstrators" turned out on Wednesday and that some "hurled explosives and burnt tyres."
Other estimates put the crowd size at 3,000.
Mourners in Gaza on Wednesday held the funeral of Osama Khaled Deaih, who died earlier in the day after being shot by Israeli forces during the protests on Saturday.
Speaking to AFP ahead of Wednesday's demonstration, Israeli army spokesman Amnon Shefler said: "We are not going to allow these violent riots to happen again, like they did on Saturday,"
Israel hit four Hamas targets with air strikes late Saturday and again overnight Monday-Tuesday,
It said that the strikes were in response to incendiary balloon launches that sparked multiple fires in Israel's southern Eskhol region.
There were no reported casualties from the latest Israeli strikes.
Egypt, a key mediator between Israel and Hamas, closed its Rafah crossing to Gaza after Saturday's violence, a punitive measure seen as a message to Hamas that it did not want the protest movement to escalate.
The protests have come three months after an Egypt-brokered ceasefire ended a deadly 11 day Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip.
Over 250 Palestinians were killed by Israeli air and artillery strikes and thousands more injured.
Palestinian groups launched thousands of rockets at Israel during the fighting, killing 13 people, including a soldier.
In 2018, Gazans began a protest movement demanding an end to Israel's crippling siege, which has plunged tens of thousands of people into poverty, and the right for Palestinians to return to lands they were expelled from when Israel was founded.
The weekly demonstrations were met with violence from the Israeli army, which killed some 350 Palestinians in Gaza over more than a year.