Fresh Gaza protests leave more than 30 injured

Gaza: Israeli occupation troops fired tear gas and live rounds at Palestinians thronging the Gaza-Israel border on Friday as part of a long-running protest, injuring more than 30 people.

Medics said 10 people were shot and wounded and 20 more treated for gas inhalation on the Palestinian side of 40 km border fence, where Gazans set up tent encampments on March 30 for what they call “The Great March of Return”.

Youths rolled burning tyres to within 500 metres of the fence, using the smoke as a screen to counter Israeli sharpshooters on the other side.

At least 43 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli army gunfire in the last month, which rights groups and the UN have decried as “excessive force”.

On May 14 Palestinians mourn what they call the “Nakba” (Catastrophe) of their people’s mass-dispossession after the state of Israel was created in 1948.

The Gaza protests have seen thousands gather – in greater numbers on Fridays – to demand access to their families’ lost homes or lands, now in Israel.

“If it wasn’t for the occupation we would have lived as free as people like in other countries,” said Ahmad, 24, at a protest site east of Gaza City.

“If they don’t allow us back, at least they should give us a state.”

The protests take place at a time of growing frustration as prospects for an independent Palestinian state look poor.

While the peace talks are stuck, Israeli colonies in the occupied territories have expanded.

An added focus this year is President Donald Trump’s unprecedented decision to begin moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem on May 14, the 70th anniversary of Israel’s founding.

Trump’s moves angered Palestinian leaders, who have refused to talk to his administration, accusing it of pro-Israel bias.

Visiting the Middle East earlier this week, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Pompeo lent his support to Israel’s handling of the border protests.

“We do believe the Israelis have a right to defend themselves,” he said.

The Trump administration is widely considered to be the most pro-Israeli US administration to date.