50 Palestinians wounded in 'Catastrophe' anniversary protests on Gaza-Israel border
A Palestinian demonstrator hurls back a tear gas canister fired by Israeli forces during a protest marking the 71st anniversary of the 'Nakba', or catastrophe, when hundreds of thousands fled or were forced from their homes in the war surrounding Israel
Israeli troops wounded nearly 50 Palestinians at the Gaza border on Wednesday during protests to mark the 71st anniversary of the "Nakba", or catastrophe, when many Palestinians lost their homes in the fighting around Israel's creation, Gaza officials said.
A Palestinian demonstrator hurls back a tear gas canister fired by Israeli forces during a protest marking the 71st anniversary of the 'Nakba', or catastrophe, when hundreds of thousands fled or were forced from their homes in the war surrounding Israel's independence in 1948, at the Israel-Gaza border fence, in the southern Gaza Strip May 15, 2019. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa
Thousands had gathered at the coastal enclave's frontier with Israel, the scene of bloodshed over the past year that has raised international concern.
Groups approached the border fence, planting Palestinian flags and
throwing stones toward Israeli soldiers on the other side despite the efforts of marshalls in orange vests to keep protesters away from the barrier, witnesses said.
Israeli troops fired tear gas and rubber bullets to repel them, but also live ammunition, the witnesses said.
The Gaza Health Ministry said at least 47 people were wounded, though it was not clear how many of those were hit by live ammunition or were hurt by rubber bullets or by inhaling tear gas.
The Israeli military said about 10,000 rioters and demonstrators gathered in several places along the Gaza Strip fence.
"The rioters are setting tyres on fire and hurling rocks. A number of explosive devices have been hurled within the Gaza Strip, as well, and a number of attempts have been made to approach the security fence. IDF troops are responding with riot dispersal means."
Wednesday's rallies were called to mark Nakba Day, what Palestinians term the catastrophe that befell them at Israel's creation in 1948, when hundreds of thousands fled or were expelled from lands in what is now Israel.
"Our people rise today to announce their rejection to this crime and to assert their right in Palestine, all of Palestine," Islamic Jihad leader Khader Habib said at one demonstration, referring to Israel and the territories it captured in the 1967 Middle East war.
"Palestine is ours, the sea is ours, the sky is ours and the land is ours, and those strangers must be removed," he said.