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More than 100 Palestinians hurt in Gaza protests

At least 115 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire in Gaza since mass demonstrations broke out on 30 March
At least 10 demonstrators were hit by live rounds on Friday (Reuters)

At least 109 Palestinians, including four children, were injured by Israeli forces on Friday during protests along the Gaza border fence with Israel, Palestinian news agency Wafa reported.

Three protesters are in critical condition after Israeli forces shot them in the head, and medics cited by a Reuters report said live rounds wounded at least 10 civilians. A Palestinian Health Ministry spokesperson said other injuries included suffocation from tear gas.

The border has been a flashpoint for deadly demonstrations that began on 30 March, as part of demands that Palestinian refugees be allowed to return to their homes now inside Israel.

More than 1.3 million Palestinians in Gaza hail from towns in what is today Israel. Gaza is home to 2 million people. About 700,000 Palestinians were forcibly displaced by Israeli forces before and in 1948.

Meanwhile, the Health Ministry said that a 24-year-old protester who was shot by Israeli forces several days ago succumbed to his wounds on Friday.

At least 115 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire in the Gaza Strip since mass demonstrations broke out on 30 March, according to new figures from the health ministry.

Protests peaked on 14 May when Israeli soldiers killed at least 61 Palestinians and injured thousands. The demonstrations coincided with the US embassy move to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.

Most of the participants on Friday kept their distance and remained about 800 metres from the fence. Dozens of youths, however, advanced to around 300 metres distance and burned tyres at one protest spot.

Israeli troops fired tear gas and live rounds.

Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh and the group's Gaza leader, Yehya Al-Sinwar, joined separate protest encampments, raising cheers from the assembled crowds.

"The marches of return are not over. They may be smaller but we are continuing," Ali, a participant who masked his face with his T-shirt at a protest east of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, told Reuters.

Protesters dispersed as dusk fell to prepare to break their daytime fast during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Last week, Haniya denied a deal had been made to end border protests, vowing they would continue.

On Thursday, Israel's Supreme Court unanimously dismissed a petition by two human rights groups that accused Israel's military of violating the law by using snipers and live ammunition against peaceful Palestinian protesters in Gaza.

The court ruled that the use of live fire was legal because the protesters constituted a real danger to Israeli soldiers and citizens.

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