Riots anticipated on the Gaza border began late Wednesday afternoon as thousands of Palestinians approached the security fence and IDF troops responded with tear gas and live ammunition, according to media reports.
Fourteen Palestinians have reportedly been injured so far at the site of the disturbance, outside the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis.
Hamas’ health ministry said that two people were wounded by rubber bullets and seven were hurt after inhaling tear gas.
Terrorists in Gaza also launched incendiary and explosive balloons aimed at southern Israel on Wednesday. According to the Palestinian Al-Ayyam news, the balloon units are still operating at less than half their capacity.
Hamas dispatched a so-called restraining force ostensibly to keep the demonstration peaceful, but video footage showed a group of Palestinians easily running around them toward the border fence.
Nevertheless, The Times of Israel said that “the level of violence was largely kept in check by members of the Hamas terror group’s so-called restraint force.”
The disorders were mostly over by nightfall, it said, as participants went home.
Egypt also helped restrain the protests.
Cairo has reportedly been pressuring Hamas to maintain the ceasefire with Israel that was agreed to following 11 days of fighting in May.
The United States also sent messages to Hamas demanding that it stop its provocations along the border, an Israeli official told reporters on Wednesday.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz was at the border earlier in the day, where he offered additional aid to Gaza if the border remains peaceful, but threatened military retaliation if the Palestinians return to violence.
“Our ‘toolbox’ is filling – we have increased capabilities in terms of aid and development of the Gaza Strip for the benefit of over 2 million Gaza residents, and also in terms of the military plans that we are developing, should we be required to take action. The reality on the ground will determine which of these tools we will choose to employ,” Gantz says in a statement following his visit.
Meanwhile, AP reported that a Palestinian man died Wednesday from a bullet wound suffered during clashes with Israeli forces at Gaza’s border fence over the weekend, Hamas health officials said.
Hamas identified the man, Osama Dueji, 32, as a member of its armed wing.
Dueij, 32, was shot in the leg during a violent demonstration on the border. Israeli gunfire wounded 41 Palestinians, including a 13-year-old boy who was shot in the head, the Hamas-run health ministry said.
An Israeli border policeman who was critically wounded after being shot in the head by a Palestinian gunman remained hospitalized on Wednesday. Video from the scene showed a Palestinian firing a pistol from point-blank range into an Israeli sniper position through a hole in a concrete barrier. All are asked to daven for the refuah sheleimah of Barel Achiya ben Nitza.
Updated Wednesday, August 25, 2021 at 5:10 pm .