Thousands riot at Gaza border, as Navy clashes with Palestinian flotilla

Palestinian protestors in boats place their national flag on a metal structure at the maritime border with Israel, in the northern Gaza Strip, on October 8, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / Said KHATIB)

Thousands of Palestinians demonstrated on land and at sea along the Gaza Strip’s border with Israel Monday, with the Hamas-run health ministry saying 29 people were injured in the riots, either by Israeli troops or by shrapnel from Palestinian bombs.

Near Zikim beach, south of Ashkelon, thousands of rioters threw explosives and rocks at the Israeli soldiers on the other side of the security fence, the army said.

Protesters also set fire to tires along the fence, filling the air with thick black smoke. Some sabotaged part of the fence, removing pieces of it. A small number cut through the barrier and started a fire in an empty Israeli army sniper nest, before rushing back into the Strip.

Israeli soldiers responded with tear gas and live fire in certain cases, the military said.

Meanwhile, dozens of boats challenged the Israeli blockade and were intercepted by Israeli Navy boats.

There too, Israeli sailors used less-lethal riot dispersal weaponry and, in some instances, live fire, the army said.

The flotilla marked 11 years since Israel imposed a blockade on the Palestinian enclave in 2007, after Hamas came to power there. Both Israel and Egypt enforce a number of restrictions on the movement of people and goods into and out of Gaza. Israel says the blockade is necessary to keep Hamas and other terror groups in the Strip from arming or building military infrastructure.

In total, 29 Palestinians were wounded in Monday’s riots, according to the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry.

Eleven people were hit by Israeli live fire and six people were reportedly struck by tear gas canisters.

Eight Palestinians were hit by shrapnel, and four were treated for tear gas inhalation, the health ministry said.

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