The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said in a statement that thousands of Palestinians were "rioting throughout the Gaza Strip, rolling burning tires and hurling stones at the security fence and at IDF troops, who are responding with riot dispersal means and firing towards main instigators".
The Israeli occupation forces also used a drone to fire tear gas towards those along the border from overhead in one of the first uses of the device.
The largest protest seen in Gaza in years coincided with Palestinian Land Day, which commemorates the confiscation of Palestinian-owned land in Israel in 1976.
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said Friday that the mass protests were a challenge to the U.S. During Land Day demonstrations in 2011, anti-Israel activists surged across the Lebanon and Syria frontiers, drawing deadly gunfire from Israeli troops.
The "totally democratic" "start-up nation" once again using caged Palestinians as laboratory subjects, killing and injuring them solely because they are demanding their right to leave this concentration camp and go homeYeah it's totally normal to cage people in a sealed ghetto after ethnically cleansing them for not being Jewish and then to shoot them if they demonstrate for their right to go home.
"Hamas should focus instead on desperately needed improvements to the lives of Palestinians in Gaza instead of inciting violence against Israel that only increases hardship & undermines chances for peace", Greenblatt tweeted.
Artists performed the traditional Palestinian dabkeh dance or played nationalist songs in the few communal tents. It deployed reinforcements, including more than 100 special forces snipers, for fear of mass attempts to break through the security fence.
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The UN Security Council condemned the violence after an emergency session. Life in the coastal strip has deteriorated further in recent months, with rising unemployment, grinding poverty and daily blackouts that last for hours. Egypt, battling an Islamist insurgency in neighbouring Sinai, keeps its border with Gaza largely closed.
Khaled al Batsh, a senior Islamic Jihad official who heads the committee responsible for organizing the mass protests, announced on Friday night the end of day one of the "March of Return".
Thousands of Palestinians marched with flags and set up tent encampments near the border, while the army said Palestinians lobbed petrol bombs and rocks.
"We are all here united, and we are all ready to sacrifice together, until our occupied lands are liberated and the refugees return home and gain their land back", she said.
In a separate incident, the Israeli army fired at two suspects in the northern Gaza Strip, according to the IOF.
Urging Palestinians to continue the protests, Batsh called on the United Nations, the Arab League and international parties to launch an inquiry into Israeli "crimes" against Palestinians who were demonstrating "peacefully" on Friday. "We were more than a kilometre away from the border".
Hamas and representatives of other Palestinian factions planned the protest.
"Palestinian intellectuals, academics, civil society organisations, students and women all embraced the concept of the march as a peaceful movement, similar to Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement", he continued.
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