Thousands protest on Gaza-Israel border

Gaza health ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra said that among the 130 Palestinians injured, at least 77 were hospitalised. As Qutati was evacuated, Israeli soldiers continued to shoot, so that those carrying him "literally ran to the ambulance under a hail of bullets".

Rockets fired from Gaza on Wednesday had brought the territory's Hamas rulers and Israel closer to a wide scale confrontation.

Contrary to Israeli reports, media outlets in Gaza reported a relatively high turnout Friday, but Hamas did admit that it had issued instructions to reduce friction with the Israeli military near the border fence - this in accordance with understandings reached with Egyptian mediators working to broker a long-term peace agreement with Israel.

With the deployment clearly visible from main Israeli roads near the Gaza Strip, senior Egyptian security officials met leaders of the enclave's ruling Hamas to try to calm tensions.

Palestinian resistance groups, however, denied any involvement in the alleged rocket fire in a joint statement.

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Palestinians who spoke to Middle East Eye from the Gaza buffer zone said they would continue protesting "until the siege is lifted". "No one wants a war", he said.

Some 10,000 Palestinians are taking part in clashes with the Israeli military on the border with the Gaza Strip, the press service of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) said Friday. Palestinians have launched incendiary balloons and kites into Israel and on occasion breached an Israeli frontier fence.

Human rights groups, including Amnesty, have urged Palestinian protesters to respect the intention of the march organizers and remain peaceful during the Friday demonstrations.

He cited World Bank figures showing official unemployment at 53 percent, with more than 70 percent of Palestinian youths jobless. Negotiators from Cairo, Egypt traveled to Gaza this week in an effort to work out a new settlement deal that would act as a temporary ceasefire.

"When I was defense minister, more than 300 Hamas members were killed in only three and a half minutes in a single attack carried out by the [Israeli] air forces", Israeli daily Maariv quoted Barak as saying.

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