Some 15,000 Palestinian rioters burned tires and threw grenades, pipe bombs and stones at IDF troops near the Gaza border with Israel on Friday in a seventh weekly protest aimed at breaking a decade-old blockade of the enclave. IDF soldiers fired live bullets and tear gas volleys from the other side of the border fence.
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh arrived at the northern Gaza border on Friday afternoon to encourage the rioters.
"We're expecting the great march on the 14 and 15 of this month - the entire Palestinian people will be out on the streets of Palestine," he said.'
"Our people will flock from the refugee camps in Lebanon to the northern border of Palestine, and our people in Jordan will also flock to the outskirts of Palestine. We'll turn the nakba that ended Palestine to a nakba that ends the Zionist enterprise," Haniyeh added.
Haniyah boasted that "at the beginning of the siege, our rockets would get to a distance of three kilometers from the Gaza border, and today what the resistance has frightens the enemy and encourages our people."
Defiantly, he insisted that Hamas "will not give up the weapon of the resistance, we'll develop it. We won't give up Palestine, from the river to the sea, and we will not recognize Israel."
A 40-year-old Palestinian was shot dead in his chest in clashes with the IDF east of Khan Yunis in the southern part of the strip, according to Gaza health officials.
Of total number 971 needing treatment, 176 Palestinians were hit by live bullets, including a 16-year-old boy shot in the head, the Palestinian health officials added. Others suffered the effects of teargas or were hit by rubber bullets or shrapnel.
The protesters gathered in five tent camps set up weeks ago, each several hundred meters (yards) from the border. From there, smaller groups moved closer to the border fence.
Some protesters flew kites with burning rags attached. One of the kites was downed by a small Israeli drone. Others caused fires in open areas in Israeli communities by the Gaza border. Most of the fires broke out in the Shaar HaNegev Regional Council area, and firefighters were able to gain control of all of them.
Several Palestinian rioters attempted to sabotage the fence and other security measures on the border.
Witnesses said Israeli forces on the other side of the fence had added reinforcements, including cement slabs, as protective cover.
In recent weeks, soldiers have fired from behind sand berms.
The protest came just three days ahead of what the leader of Gaza's ruling Hamas terror group has said will be a march by tens of thousands who could burst through the border fence into Israel. The crowd on Monday will be unarmed and peaceful, but like a "starving tiger" in pent-up anger and unpredictability, Yahya Sinwar told foreign reporters Thursday.
"We hope these incidents will pass without a large number of martyrs and wounded, and the occupation forces must restrain themselves," Sinwar added.
Israel has warned that it will prevent any border breach, with the IDF saying Friday that it "will not allow any harm to the security infrastructure or security fence and will continue standing by its mission to defend and ensure the security of the citizens of Israel and Israeli sovereignty, as necessary."
Since the Hamas-led marches began in late March, 44 Palestinians have been killed and more than 1,800 wounded by Israel army fire, according to figures provided by Gaza sources.
A report by the aid charity Save the Children, published on Friday, said that at least 250 Gazan children had been hit with live bullets during the protests, among nearly 700 children injured overall. The analysis was based on data collected by the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza.
Next week's border march is meant to protest the planned move of the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on Monday.
The embassy's inauguration comes five months after President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital, a move that outraged Palestinians as blatantly pro-Israel.
Another large-scale protest is planned for Tuesday, when Palestinians mark their "nakba," or catastrophe, referring to their mass exodus during the war over Israel's 1948 creation. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were driven out or fled homes in what is now Israel. More than two-thirds of Gaza residents are descendants of refugees.
Meanwhile, Gaza government officials announced that Egypt will open its border with Gaza for four days starting Saturday. Helping reinforce the Israeli blockade, Egypt has kept the Rafah crossing point, Gaza's main gate to the outside world, closed most of the time since the Hamas takeover.
Egypt opens the crossing from time to time, mainly to allow people in special categories, including medical patients and Gaza residents studying abroad, to leave the territory or return to it. The upcoming opening was framed as a humanitarian gesture ahead of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, which begins next week.
In Jordan, about 7,000 people participated in a "nakba" rally in an area close to the West Bank border. Palestinian refugees and their descendants now number several million people in the region, including more than two million in Jordan.
Friday's rally took place before a large stage with a view of the Dead Sea and the West Bank. Jordanian, Palestinian, and green Muslim Brotherhood flags flew over crowd.
One man walked onto the stage with an effigy of Trump dangling from a noose.
Yoav Zitun, Elior Levy, Liad Osmo and Reuters contributed to this story.