At least 31 Palestinians have been killed since the beginning of the year.
At least six Palestinians have been shot dead and dozens more injured by Israeli forces as hundreds of them demonstrated along the border in the eastern Gaza Strip, sources told Al Jazeera.
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Friday’s violence comes as clashes have increased in frequency since Israeli security forces began to crack down on Palestinian worshippers at the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the occupied East Jerusalem last month.
“It is very dangerous here,” Ezz Zanoun, a Gaza-based photographer who was at the protest, told Al Jazeera. “They always shoot at the border, but it’s much worse today than usual.”
Among those killed was a 15-year-old boy who was fatally shot at another demonstration in the al-Faraheen village, southeast of Gaza City.
Medical sources have told Al Jazeera that out of the 70 injured in the firing near the border with Israel, at least 10 are in critical condition.
“At first they started shooting with rubber-coated steel bullets and stun grenades, then they fired live ammunition at us,” he said. “Dozens have been injured, but the number is growing because the clashes are still going on.”
“There are injured people everywhere,” he said. “The bullets are flying everywhere.”
During a speech in Gaza City on Friday, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh called on Palestinians to intensify clashes with Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem.
“We are calling for the strengthening and increasing of the Intifada … It is the only path that will lead to liberation,” Haniyeh said.
Speaking to Al Jazeera, an Israeli army spokeswoman said that 200 Palestinians “approached the security fence, throwing rocks and rolling burning tyres at the soldiers”.
“Israeli forces fired [live ammunition] at the main instigators,” the spokeswoman said, adding: “I can confirm that five people were hit directly, but the riot is ongoing.”
The deadly clashes follow weeks of violence between Israelis and Palestinians in areas across Israel and the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem.
Mukhaimer Abu Saada, a political science professor at Gaza’s al-Azhar University, said that Hamas “has made it clear that Gaza will be part of any Intifada”.
“Judging by Israel’s use of fatal force against unarmed protesters in Gaza, it’s safe to say we will witness a big escalation in the coming days,” he told Al Jazeera.
– Additional reporting by Patrick Strickland