Israel bans entry of vehicle tires into Gaza after massive tire-burning

Seven Palestinian men were shot by the Israeli army on Saturday in the second mass protest along the border of Gaza.

Smaller groups, mostly young men, rushed forward, throwing stones, hurling firebombs and burning tyres and drawing Israeli fire.

"The killing and wounding of yet more unarmed Palestinian protesters yesterday by Israeli forces in Gaza is an outrage". "I have two kids, a boy and a girl, and if I die, God will take care of them".

A total of 30 Palestinians have now been shot dead since the start of the protests on March 30, when tens of thousands took to the border area with Israel, demanding the right of return for Palestinian refugees. The military was on high alert ahead of Friday.

"There are no innocent people in the Gaza Strip", Avigdor Lieberman told Israel's public radio on Sunday, claiming that all the Gazans are affiliated with the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas.

Live ammunition, rubber-coated steel bullet and tear gas fired at the rallies by Israeli soldiers wounded at least 1,600 thus far.

Violence spiked again on Friday when thousands of protesters returned to the border. Hamas, which is backing the demonstrations, hopes to sustain them through mid-May, until the anniversary of Israel's independence and the scheduled date for the United States to move its embassy to Jerusalem. To block the view of the Israeli snipers, the protesters burnt piles of tires.

Israel's response to the protests has drawn worldwide criticism, with human rights groups saying it involved live fire against demonstrators posing no immediate threat to life.

Israel's defence minister has warned that protesters approaching the border fence endanger their lives, drawing condemnation from rights groups that said such seemingly broad open-fire rules are unlawful.

Hamas leaders have portrayed the final protest, set for May 15, as the "Great March of Return" of Palestinian refugees and their descendants, implying they would try to enter Israeli territory.

Other casualties followed armed clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces, including the shelling of a Hamas observation point.

Photos showed demonstrators running from tear gas fired by Israeli forces.

The European Union and U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres have called for an independent investigation, which Israel has rejected.

There were indications that Israel used "excessive force" against protesters last week.

"The circumstances of the breach are being investigated", the army said.

According to the ministry, Israel is still holding the bodies of two martyred Palestinians since last week.

Palestinian militant groups have also dug tunnels under the border fence to smuggle weapons, and to launch attacks.


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