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Up to 60 Palestinians wounded during protests to mark anniversary of creation of Israel

The demonstrations came two weeks after a ceasefire was announced in the region.

A man holding anti-Eurovision banner confronts an Israeli border policeman
A man holding anti-Eurovision banner confronts an Israeli border policeman
Image: AP

UP TO 60 Palestinian protesters have been wounded during protests to mark the anniversary of their mass displacement and the creation of Israel in 1948.

Health authorities in Gaza reported that 16 demonstrators were wounded by Israeli live fire and 14 more, including three medics, with rubber-coated steel pellets as the demonstrations ended.

Thousands of people streamed to the Gaza-Israel border earlier today as the Hamas group, which controls Gaza, announced a general strike to allow for a large turnout.

The demonstrations came two weeks after a ceasefire was announced to end two days of fighting in the region.

A Qatari envoy, who has been helping mediate the ceasefire, had urged Hamas to keep Wednesday’s demonstration restrained.

The Israeli military said protesters hurled stones and explosives toward troops and approached the fence.

“These are terrorist-backed violent riots and they endanger the lives of innocent civilians,” the Israeli military said.

In the West Bank city of Ramallah, hundreds of people marched from the grave of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to a rally in the city, demanding the right to return to lost properties in what is now Israel.

“We will return, no matter how long it takes” read the sign of one protester.

Sirens could also be heard across the West Bank at noon, and smaller demonstrations took place.

In east Gaza City, huge plumes of smoke billowed behind the fence as Israeli farmland caught fire by arson devices that were launched by protesters.

The annual demonstrations marking what is known as the “nakba” or “catastrophe”, which saw hundreds of thousands of Palestinians flee or forced from their homes during the war surrounding Israel’s establishment.

An estimated 5 million Palestinian refugees are spread across the Middle East today.

The fate of the refugees is one of the core issues of dispute between Israel and the Palestinians.

Israel rejects demands for a mass return of refugees to long-lost homes, saying it would threaten the country’s Jewish character.

More than 60 Palestinians were killed during last year’s demonstrations, which coincided with the opening of the new US embassy in Jerusalem, which has been contested as the recognised capital of Israel.

With additional reporting from Associated Press.

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