Gaza rallies to mark 'Great Return' protest anniversary

Palestinian protesters take part in the

Tens of thousands of Palestinian protesters gathered at the Gaza border Saturday to mark the first anniversary of demonstrations calling on Israel to ease its blockade on the territory.

Israel's army had not commented on the death, but late Friday said explosive devices were thrown at the fence "throughout the evening".

Israeli forces used live ammunition, rubber bullets and teargas to disperse Palestinian protesters in the cities of Ramallah, Al-Bireh and Nablus, according to Anadolu Agency reporters in the area.

The fatal shooting came hours before Palestinians were to hold a large rally, capping a year of weekly marches against the Israeli-Egyptian blockade of Gaza, imposed after the 2007 takeover of the territory by Hamas.

But fears of a repeat of similar protests and clashes to those that saw more than 60 Palestinians killed on May 14, when the United States transferred its Israel embassy to Jerusalem, did not materialise.

Hamas leaders said on Saturday progress had been made in the Egyptian talks but that they still had a list of demands from Israel.

Facing a serious challenge from a centrist party led by a former general, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's handling of Gaza will also be under scrutiny from hawkish allies in his right-wing coalition.

The week before the anniversary saw a flare-up of cross-border violence after a rocket fired from Gaza wounded seven Israelis north of Tel Aviv on Monday.

"I don't know how many years will pass before our lives improve but we should continue (protests) as long as the occupation and the blockade exist".

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Egypt had sought to mediate between Israel and Gaza's rulers Hamas to rein in violence and avoid the sort of deadly response from the Israeli army that has accompanied past protests. The Kingdom stated its categorical rejection of Israeli policies and practices, along with false and illegal plans, that it described as flagrant violations in defiance of global law, charters, conventions and resolutions, which are preventing any chance of achieving a two-state solution. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analysis from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

The Israeli army, which put the number of protesters at 40,000, accused participants of throwing rocks and setting tires on fire.

About 200 Gazans have been killed by Israeli troops since the protests started, according to Palestinian Health Ministry figures, and an Israeli soldier was killed by a Palestinian sniper. Netanyahu took heavy criticism this week for what was seen as a soft response to renewed rocket fire out of Gaza.

Palestinians have been taking part in protests along the border since 30 March 2018 as part of a campaign, dubbed "the Great March of Return".

Unless undertaken lawfully in self-defence, intentionally shooting a civilian not directly participating in hostilities is a war crime.

Tensions have been high around Gaza for months already, yet they appear to be rising even more as the elections in Israel loom.

Analysts highlight desperate living conditions and lack of freedom of movement as driving forces behind the protests.

In one scene, a group of activists went up to the fence and hurled stones at the other side.

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