For more than four months, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have been protesting along the fence with Israel, demanding their right to return to the homes and land their families were expelled from 70 years ago.
The Great March of Return rallies culminated on May 15 to mark what Palestinians refer to as the Nakba, or Catastrophe – a reference to the forced removal of 750,000 Palestinians from their homes and villages to clear the way for Israel’s establishment in 1948.
The mass Friday demonstrations have since continued.
Since the protests began on March 30, Israeli forces have killed at least 157 Palestinians in the besieged coastal enclave and wounded more than 16,000 people, according to health officials in Gaza.
Latest updates: Friday, August 10
A volunteer paramedic has been killed and at least 84 people wounded in the Gaza Strip, health officials said, as Palestinian protesters gathered along the Israeli border fence for the 20th week.
Abdullah al-Qatiti was shot to death on Friday, health ministry spokesman Ashraf Al-Qidra said. Among those injured, 25 suffered wounds as a result of live fire, he added.
“There is a lot of tear gas being fired by the Israeli military using drones,” said Al Jazeera’s Charles Stratford, reporting from the protests in Gaza.
“The coming hours will be critical,” he added. “It is tense here and there are fears that if there is any serious provocation by either side, we could yet again see another escalation in violence.”
This week’s protests follow deadly Israeli air attacks and artillery shellling on the besieged enclave.
On Wednesday, Israeli forces killed at least three people in Gaza, including a 23-year-old woman who was almost nine months pregnant and her 18-month-old daughter.
The Israeli military launched more than 140 attacks after about 150 rockets were fired from the coastal enclave.
A statement by Hamas’ military force said it was responsible for the rockets. It said the Palestinian “resistance” had fired a large number of projectiles at “enemy positions in the Gaza envelope”.
Friday’s protests, which began at around 14:00 GMT, come a day after Hamas and Israel reached an Egypt-brokered deal to end the flare-up in violence. But the Israeli government has not officially confirmed the agreement.
Saturday, August 4
A Palestinian teenager has died from his wounds after being shot in the abdomen by Israeli forces during a protest on Friday.
Muaz al-Suri, 15, was demonstrating near Gaza’s fence with Israel when he was shot east of the Bureij refugee camp. He died early Saturay, the health ministry said.
Friday, August 3
Palestinian killed by Israeli army sniper
A Palestinian man has been shot dead by Israeli soldiers and at least 220 others were wounded during protests near the fence with Israel in the Gaza Strip, according to Palestinian health officials.
Ahmed Yaghi, 25, was killed by a sniper east of Gaza city, health ministry spokesman Ashraf Al-Qidra said.
Of the 220 injured, 90 suffered wounds as a result of live fire, he added.
Hamas leaders to discuss ceasefire deal
Several exiled Hamas leaders have entered Gaza to discuss a ceasefire deal brokered by Egypt and the UN.
Prominent leader Saleh al-Arouri, who is wanted by Israel, returned from Lebanon for the first time since 2010 to attend the talks scheduled for Friday.
He crossed the border from Egypt on Thursday, after Egyptian and UN assurances over his safety, with eight other Hamas leaders based outside of the besieged Gaza Strip.
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has also delayed a visit to Colombia and called a special cabinet meeting on Sunday to monitor developments.
“We are seeing these intensive efforts and there is more international spotlight on the situation because the life for people here has become increasingly difficult over the years under the siege by Israel, Egypt’s blockade and also the sanctions from the Palestinian Authority,” said Al Jazeera’s Stefanie Dekker, reporting from Gaza.