Israeli sniper fire hits at least 42 unarmed Palestinians

Israeli sniper fire hits at least 42 unarmed Palestinians

GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories - At least 42 Palestinians were wounded by Israeli sniper fire in renewed protests along the Gaza-Israel border Friday, the enclave’s health ministry said.

A statement from the ministry’s spokesman said 42 people "were shot by Israeli occupation forces" during the 50th week of often-violent demonstrations.

Four medics were among those wounded, the ministry said.

An Israeli army spokesman said "approximately 8,400 demonstrators and rioters are currently gathered in a number of locations along the Gaza Strip security fence".

"They have hurled explosive devices and rocks at the security fence and soldiers, and have also ignited tyres," the spokesman said.

Troops responded according to "standard operating procedures", he added.

Protests and clashes began along the Gaza border on March 30 last year.

Demonstrators have been calling for Palestinian refugees to be allowed to return to their former homes now inside Israel, which Israeli officials say is akin to calling for their country’s destruction.

Israel accuses Gaza’s Islamist rulers Hamas of using the protests as cover for infiltrations and attacks, while rights groups and Palestinians say protesters posing little threat have been shot by Israeli snipers.

At least 252 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since March 2018, the majority shot during weekly border protests and others hit by tank fire or air strikes in response to violence from Gaza.

Two Israeli soldiers have been killed over the same period.

Israel and Hamas, which has controlled the blockaded Gaza Strip for over a decade, have fought three wars since 2008. - APP/AFP