Palestinians in Gaza City step on a poster depicting Israel's recently resigned defence minister, Avigdor Lieberman, as they celebrate after he resigned, 14 November (Reuters)

Thousands of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip were demonstrating on Friday near the fence with Israel as part of the Great March of Return, shortly after a two-day spate of deadly violence.

According to the Gaza Ministry of Health, Israeli forces wounded at least 40 Palestinians, including three in dangerous condition, as of 5pm local time.

Demonstrators have been attending mass protests in Gaza since 30 March to demand the right of return for millions of Palestinian refugees whose families were displaced during the establishment of the state of Israel.

This Friday's protest was under the theme "Normalisation is treachery", as Palestinians gathered in several locations along the fence in eastern Gaza.

Demonstrators raised Palestinian flags and stepped on posters of Israel's defence minister, Avigdor Lieberman, who resigned on Wednesday and withdrew his party from the ruling coalition over ceasefire talks between Israel and Palestinian factions in Gaza, including the blockaded enclave's de facto ruling party, Hamas.

At least 15 Palestinians and one Israeli soldier have been killed since a botched Israeli operation inside Gaza Strip on 10 November, followed by the fiercest rocket salvoes and air strikes between Palestinian armed factions and Israel since the 2014 war.

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The fighting erupted after an Israeli unit was exposed during a covert operation inside Gaza, leading to a shootout between the Israeli soldiers and Hamas fighters.

Israel used air support to withdraw its soldiers and seven Palestinians, including a Hamas commander, as well as one Israeli soldier were killed in the exchange.

Hamas responded with a barrage of rockets targeted at Israel, killing one Palestinian and injuring dozens of Israelis, while Israel continued to carry out air strikes, destroying several buildings and killing seven more Palestinians.

Israel's government has been plunged into a crisis since Lieberman's resignation that could potentially force the country into an early election.

Lieberman, well known for his hardline right-wing political stance, called for new elections – though Netanyahu's government can technically continue to operate without Lieberman's Israel Beiteinu party, though with a razor-thin majority with 61 out of the 120 seats in parliament.

This is a developing story.

Original Article


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