Israeli fire kills 6 Palestinians at Gaza protest

Nickolay Mladenov UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process

Israel said its troops had shot a group who broke through the fence with a bomb and attacked an army post.

Gaza medics said that, in addition to the seven dead, around 140 others were wounded.

"The rioters are burning tires and are hurling rocks, explosive devices, firebombs and grenades at IDF troops and the security fence", according to an IDF statement.

Armed Israeli paramilitary settlers have launched a number of attacks on the Palestinian civilian population in the Nablus area, with the number of attacks drastically increasing since two Israeli settlers were killed by a Palestinian in the area on Monday.

The protests are a continuation of what Gazans dubbed the "March of Return", a series of protests that began in late-March, aimed at highlighting the right claimed by Palestinians to return to homes and villages lost seven decades ago in the war that accompanied the founding of the state of Israel.

They also demand an end to Israel's 12-year blockade of the Gaza Strip, which has gutted the coastal enclave's economy and deprived its roughly two million inhabitants of many basic commodities.

Israeli soldiers have killed more than 200 Palestinians in the clashes, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, with thousands of others injured.

Israel accuses the enclave's Islamist rulers Hamas of leading the protests and using them as a cover for attacks. Hamas denies the allegations.

Israel says its troops have used "riot dispersal means" and have fired "in accordance with standard operating procedures".

At least 204 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire in Gaza since protests began on March 30.

The Israeli military has been criticised by the Palestinians as well as several worldwide human rights groups for its lethal response to the protests.

Although the fuel was aimed at making the situation better in Gaza- where residents are now only receiving around four hours of electricity per day on average - the Qatar-bought delivery was protested by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, as it was arranged with Hamas rather than his government. He expressed hope that the efforts "could lead to calm in return for breaking the siege".

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