16 Palestinians killed and injured in Gaza border protests says Gaza medics

Vastavam web: At least 16 Palestinians were killed and hundreds injured by Israeli security forces confronting one of the largest Palestinian demonstrations along the Israel-Gaza border in recent years, Gaza medical officials said.Tens of thousands of Palestinians, pressing for a right of return for refugees to what is now Israel, gathered along the fenced 65-km (40-mile) frontier where tents were erected for a planned six-week protest, local officials said. The Israeli military estimate was 30,000.

But as the day wore on, hundreds of Palestinian youths ignored calls from the organisers and the Israeli military to stay away from the frontier, where Israeli soldiers across the border kept watch from dirt mound embankments.The military said its troops had used live fire only against people trying to sabotage the border security fence, some of them rolling burning tyres and throwing rocks, and that at least two of the dead were Hamas operatives.

One of the dead was aged 16 and at least 400 people were wounded by live gunfire, while others were struck by rubber bullets or treated for tear gas inhalation, Gaza health officials said.Two Palestinians were killed by tank fire, the Gaza Health Ministry said. The Israeli military said the two were militants who had opened fire at troops across the border.Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said in a statement that Israel was responsible for the violence and declared Saturday a national day of mourning.