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Thousands march on Gaza-Israel border in 5th Friday of protests

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Palestinian demonstrators try to pull down part of the fence on the Israel-Gaza border, east of Gaza City in the central Gaza Strip, during the fifth straight Friday of mass demonstrations and clashes along the border with Israel on April 27, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / MAHMUD HAMS

Thousands of Palestinian protesters returned to points along the Gaza Strip’s border with Israel for a fifth consecutive Friday of demonstrations dubbed the Great March of Return.

Demonstrators again gathered at five sites near the border fence, though numbers were down on previous weeks.

Dozens of young men burned tyres and threw stones a few hundreds metres from the border, with Israeli soldiers occasionally firing at them.

Fifty people were injured by gunfire or teargas inhalation, Gaza’s health ministry said.

A 22-year-old freelance photographer was among those shot, the ministry said.

Forty-one Palestinians have been killed since the demonstrations began on March 30, with hundreds more injured.

Marchers are demanding the right to return to their homes seized by Israel in 1948.

Israel says that allowing the refugees in would mean the end of the Jewish state, and accuses Gaza’s Islamist rulers Hamas of using the protests as a pretext for violence.

Demonstrations are expected to spike again in the lead up to May 14, when the United States is expected to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

The decision has infuriated Palestinians, who see the annexed eastern half of the holy city as the capital of their future state.

Israel has rejected calls for an independent inquiry into the deaths along Gaza’s border, with the army saying its troops only use live ammunition as a last resort.

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