Dozens injured as Israeli forces fire on protesters at Gaza border
At least 10 Palestinians were injured with gunfire on Saturday after Israeli forces opened fire on hundreds of protesters demonstrating the 52nd anniversary of the Al-Aqsa Mosque arson near the Israeli fence surrounding the besieged Gaza Strip.
Many others were left struggling to breathe after suffocating from teargas, Palestinian news agency Wafa reported.
Israeli forces stationed along the border opened gunfire and teargas at the protesters, Wafa correspondent said.
Protesters gathered to mark the 1969 incident, when Australian Jewish extremist Dennis Michael Rohan attempted to set fire to Al-Aqsa Mosque, destroying parts of Al-Qiblah Mosque, the main building inside the Al-Aqsa compound.
The attack also destroyed a 1,000-year-old priceless wood and ivory pulpit, placed there by the Muslim leader Salaheddin.
Despite not having defined, official borders, Israel does not allow Palestinians to be within 300 meters from the border fence, which it unilaterally claims as a "buffer zone", and often opens fire at the farmers who approach those areas.
In 2006, Israel imposed a land, sea, and air blockade on the strip, effectively turning the coastal enclave into an open-air prison, where basic necessities such as food, fuel and medicines are severely restricted.
Israel insists its blockade is necessary to isolate Hamas, which it has fought three wars since 2008, bringing devastation to the Gaza Strip.
Critics say the blockade, along with a periodic bombardment of Gaza amounts to collective punishment of the coastal enclave's 2 million residents.