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Israeli forces wound scores of Palestinians in Gaza protests

Despite ongoing talks between Israel and Hamas, protesters have continued to rally, five months since the Great March of Return began
A Palestinian demonstrator throws a stone during the Great March of Return in Gaza on 31 August (MEE/Mohammed Asad)

Thousands of Palestinians gathered along the fence separating the Gaza Strip from Israel on Friday, five months since regular protests began calling for an end to the blockade of the enclave and demanding the right of return for Palestinian refugees.

The Gaza health ministry reported that at least 120 Palestinians had been wounded as of 6:30pm local time (3:30pm GMT) including a female volunteer paramedic and a 10-year-old child who were both in serious condition.

According to a Middle East Eye correspondent on the scene, Israelis forces were shooting live fire and large quantities of tear gas towards the demonstrators.

Paramedics carry a wounded Palestinian on 31 August during a demonstration in Gaza (MEE/Mohammed Asad)

Snipers were notably targeting Palestinians carrying tyres - as demonstrators have been burning tyres for months during the protests in an attempt to block the view of Israeli snipers with smoke. The health ministry said 38 people were sent to hospital after being injured by live fire.

Friday’s demonstration took place soon after Hamas's leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, confirmed to journalists that a deal was in the works that could result in a lifting of the 11-year-siege on Gaza, but cautioned that such an agreement could take months to reach.

Reports of talks between Israel and Hamas have sparked a flurry of speculation over the content of such a deal - leaving the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority furious at being excluded from the process.

In late March, Palestinians launched the Great March of Return, gathering peacefully along the "buffer zone" in Gaza near the fence separating it from Israel.

The protest campaign calls for an end to the 11-year Israeli-led blockade on Gaza and for Palestinian refugees' right of return to the lands that their families fled during the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948.

Now, 155 days later, at least 171 Palestinians in Gaza - including demonstrators, journalists and medics - have been killed by Israeli forces, while more than 18,300 have been wounded.

While demonstrations initially took place on a daily basis, over the summer they have occurred mainly on Fridays.

Mohammed al-Asad contributed reporting to this story from Gaza.