Israeli forces shot and wounded a protester on Friday, as Palestinians began their seventh week of an ongoing demonstration demanding their right to return to their homes on the other side of the Gaza-Israel border.
Israeli troops shot and wounded a Palestinian protester in Gaza, Palestinian medical workers said, as demonstrators arrived for the last Friday of a more than six-week protest at the Gaza-Israel border, which began on March 20.
Organisers of the protest, called the "Great March of Return," said they expected tens of thousands of Gazans at border encampments in the coming days.
Israeli troops, mainly snipers, have killed over 40 Palestinians during the protest, which ends on May 15, the day Palestinians call 'Nakba' (Catastrophe), marking the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in the conflict surrounding the creation of Israel in 1948.
The protesters are demanding that Palestinian refugees be allowed to return to their former homes in today's Israel.
According toTRT World’s Soraya Lennie, who reports from the Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem, the protests are not just about what happened in 1948 and the right of return, but they're about what has happened since and the continuous erosion of the Palestinian cultural identity.
The majority of those killed were shot during protests and clashes near the border. The vast majority of demonstrators have been unarmed, and Israel has been slammed for using excessive force against the protesters.
No Israelis have been hurt, though some demonstrators have thrown stones and rolled burning tyres towards soldiers along the border.
Mohammad Mansour reports with more from the Gaza Strip.
Hamas signals support
On Thursday, a senior Hamas official signalled support for thousands of Palestinians to breach the border fence from Gaza into Israel at the protest, which also coincides with the move on May 14, of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
In his first major briefing to international media since becoming head of the group in Gaza in 2017, Yahya Sinwar implied he would like to see thousands of Palestinians crossing into Israel as part of more than a month of protests.
Asked what he wanted to see from protests on Monday and Tuesday, Sinwar pointed out Israel has never specifically defined its borders.
"What's the problem with hundreds of thousands breaking through a fence that is not a border?"
Sinwar said he hoped Israel would not shoot at what he called "peaceful" protests.
Sinwar said the lack of Israelis hurt was evidence the protests were peaceful.
But he warned the protests risked spiralling out of control, blaming Israel for imposing a blockade on the strip and its two million residents since Hamas took control of Gaza in 2007.
Israel says the restrictions are necessary to restrict Hamas, with whom it has fought three wars since 2008.
"The tiger is loose"
"The Gaza Strip is like a hungry tiger that has been starved and left in a cage for 11 years," Sinwar said.
"Now the tiger is loose, and nobody knows what it will do."
Gaza suffers from high levels of unemployment, while more than 95 percent of the water is not fit for consumption due to pollution.
Israel says it only opens fire when necessary to stop infiltrations, attacks and damage to the border fence, while accusing Hamas of seeking to use the protests as cover to carry out violence.
Palestinians say protesters are being shot while posing no threat to soldiers and there have been international calls for an independent investigation.
Thousands are expected to gather along the border on Monday, which coincides with the controversial opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem.
There are fears protesters could try and breach the fence, leading to more bloodshed.
Palestinians, who also consider Jerusalem their capital, joined by much of the international community, reacted furiously to President Donald Trump's December 6 announcement that he would move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to the divided holy city.
Rallies in solidarity with Palestinians
People rallied in different parts of the world to show support for the Palestinian protesters.
In Turkey TRT World 's Francis Collings reports from Istanbul where people holding Palestinian flags chanted slogans to show solidarity with the anti-Israel demonstrators.