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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 October 2018

Thousands in Gaza mourn seven killed in border clashes

At least 140 demonstrators wounded by live bullets

Thousands of Palestinians attended funerals on Saturday for seven young men shot dead a day earlier by Israeli troops during fresh demonstrations along the Gaza border, an AFP correspondent said.

Mourners, including leaders of the enclave's rulers Hamas, chanted slogans condemning Israel for shooting civilians and called on the international community to deliver justice.

The Israeli army said five Palestinians had been killed during the protests on Friday after they broke through the heavily guarded border fence and attacked an army post.

Army spokesman Jonathan Conricus said around 20 Palestinians had crossed the border in an "organised attack" after an explosive device destroyed a portion of the fence.

About five of those who got through the fence assaulted an Israeli army position and were "repelled", he wrote on Twitter.

The enclave's health ministry said seven Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire as thousands of protesters approached the border.

The army said approximately 14,000 "rioters and demonstrators" took part in Friday's protests.

At least 205 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire in Gaza since protests began on March 30.

The majority were killed during border demonstrations, though others have died in airstrikes and tank shelling.

One Israeli soldier has been killed.

The protesters are demanding to be allowed to return to land now inside Israel, from which their families fled or were displaced during the 1948 war surrounding the creation of the Jewish state.

They are also calling for Israel to end its crippling blockade of the strip.

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Israel accuses Hamas of leading the protests and using them as a cover for attacks.

There had been hopes the protests would ease after a UN-brokered agreement to ease the strip's energy crisis took effect this week.

But thousands gathered once again on Friday at sites along the border, AFP correspondents said.

They added that Hamas leader Ismail Haniya also attended the protests east of Gaza City and hailed the ongoing demonstrations.