Israeli airstrike hits Gaza; Palestinian man reported killed

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Israeli troops fire teargas at Palestinians during a protest at the Gaza Strip's border with Israel.

Gaza's Health Ministry said that at least 701 people were wounded on Friday (Saturday NZT), including 163 by live fire and the rest by tear gas or rubber-coated steel pellets.

Some in the Gaza crowd threw firebombs and an explosive device, the Israeli military said.

He said Hamas should not pursue a violent "struggle against Israel", but emphasised that Israel's "continuing control of Gaza's air, sea, and northern, southern, and eastern borders, and its restrictions on the freedom of movement of people, legitimate goods and equipment in and out of Gaza, have made the humanitarian situation worse".

Gaza health officials say 528 Palestinians were hurt Friday, including 122 by Israeli army fire.

Among the wounded is a journalist identified as Ahmad Abu Hussein, who was seriously shot in the abdomen, and Mohammad Najjar, who was shot in the shoulder.

The Israeli authorities have stated that, as a matter of principle, they would not allow people who participated in the protests to exit Gaza in order to receive medical treatment in hospitals in the West Bank or Israel.

The debate over Israel's open-fire regulations has intensified with a rising number of dead and wounded since the first protests March 30.

Israel says it is doing what it must to defend its border, and to stop any of the rioters getting across the fence. Israelis say that amounts to calling for the country's destruction.

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Since the start of the border unrest at the end of March, more than 30 Palestinian rioters have been killed.

Israel alleges Hamas is using protests as a cover for attacks. In today's briefing to the Security Council, the UN Secretary-General reiterated his deep concern about the clashes and casualties, and called for an independent and transparent investigation into the incident.

A Palestinian journalist was wounded in the border clashes last Friday and later died of his injuries.

Israel claimed he was a paid member of Hamas, but produced no evidence.

"We want to live like everyone else in the world", said 37-year-old construction worker Omar Hamada, an unemployed father of eight.

Rights groups have strongly criticised Israeli forces while pointing to unverified videos that have spread online of Gazans appearing to be shot, including one seeming to show a Palestinian targeted as he ran away from the fence while holding a tyre.

Organisers have reiterated their call for peaceful protests.

That is the day Palestinians will mark the 70th anniversary of the "Nakba" or "Catastrophe", when hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were displaced amid violence culminating in war between newly created Israel and its Arab neighbours in May 1948.

"Media reports suggest that on Friday, Israeli soldiers will once again be ordered by high command - in contravention of worldwide law - to engage in sniper fire on Gaza residents who come within 300 meters of the border fence or engage in other non-life-threatening actions".

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