Updated: August 30, 2021 9:33:46 am
Hundreds of Palestinians gathered along the separation fence with Israel, setting tires on fire and throwing explosives as Gaza’s Hamas rulers pressed ahead with a campaign aimed at pressuring Israel to ease a stifling blockade of the territory. One protester was moderately wounded by Israeli gunfire.
It was the second consecutive nighttime border protest and took place hours after Israeli warplanes carried out a series of airstrikes on alleged Hamas targets in response to the unrest. Hamas officials have promised to hold nightly protests all week.
“The Zionist occupation bears all the repercussions and consequences of the tightening of the siege on Gaza and the escalation of the humanitarian crisis among its residents,” said Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum. “No calm or stability will be achieved as long as our people lack a free and dignified life.”
The Israeli military said protesters set tires on fire and lobbed explosives toward Israeli troops, and that its forces took unspecified measures to disperse the crowd.
The Palestinian Health Ministry said one protester was shot and suffered moderate wounds. No further details were immediately available.
Israel, with Egypt’s help, has maintained a tight blockade on Gaza since Hamas seized control of the territory in 2007, a year after winning a Palestinian election.
Israel says the closure, which tightly restricts the movement of goods and people in and out of Gaza, is needed to prevent Hamas from building up its military capabilities. Critics say the closure, which has devastated the economy, amounts to collective punishment.
Israel has tightened the blockade since an 11-day war against Hamas in May while Egypt tries to broker a long-term cease-fire. Israel has demanded that Hamas return the remains of two dead soldiers and release two captive Israeli civilians in exchange for easing the blockade.
Hamas has grown increasingly angry over the lack of progress in the cease-fire talks. Its operatives have launched a series of incendiary balloons across the border in recent weeks, sparking a series of wildfires in southern Israel.