A 15-year-old boy and three other Palestinians on Friday were killed by Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip, becoming the latest victims of the Israeli military's violence against unarmed protesters during the fourth round of weekly protests.
Mohammad Ibrahim Ayyup was shot in the head by the Israeli forces in protests east of Jabalia town in northern Gaza. Three Palestinian men in their 20s were also killed, the health ministry confirmed.
In addition, 729 protesters were hurt, including 156 hit by live fire, the ministry said, adding that five of the wounded were in serious condition. Some of the others were hurt by rubber-coated steel pellets or overcome by tear gas.
The latest deaths brought to 32 the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli troops in protests since late March. More than 1,600 have been wounded by live rounds in the past three weeks, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.
The rising Palestinian casualty toll signaled that Israel's military is sticking to its open and indiscriminate fire rules despite international criticism of the use of lethal force against unarmed protesters.
Israeli soldiers are positioned on the other side of the border fence, including snipers taking cover behind earthen berms, and none have been hurt.
The protests are aimed at breaking a crippling border blockade that was imposed by Israel and Egypt after Hamas took the control of Gaza in 2007, a year after winning Palestinian parliament elections.
The marches also press for a "right of return" of Palestinian refugees and their descendants to what is now Israel. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled or were forced from homes in the 1948 war over Israel's creation. Palestinians mark May 15, the anniversary of Israel's founding, as their "nakba," or catastrophe, to mourn their mass uprooting.
"We will stay here until we reclaim our lands," said Ahmed Nasman, 21, speaking in a protest tent camp east of Gaza City, as activists near him prepared kites. "Every day, we will come here with a new way to resist them," he said, referring to Israel.