Israel-Gaza Border Quiets Down as Egypt Pushes for Calm
Crowds of Palestinians demonstrated along the Israel-Gaza Strip border on Friday but in fewer numbers and with less fury than has been seen for months as Egyptian mediators worked to lower tension along the frontier.
Israeli troops wounded seven people when they opened fire on rioters but there were no fatalities, Gaza health officials said. The Israeli military confirmed it had shot at them.
Nearly 220 Palestinian rioters have been killed by Israeli forces during almost seven months of unrest, according to Gaza figures.
The weekly disturbances in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip began in March and at times have attracted tens of thousands of people.
But on Friday, when Egyptian officials, who have been shuttling between Israel and Gaza, made a rare visit to the frontier, just several thousand showed up.
Rioters still set fire to tires but fewer in number.
The Israeli military, which usually says Palestinians attack the border fence during the protest, said that while there were indeed disturbances, much of the crowd kept their distance.
A Palestinian official familiar with the Egyptian mediation said the goal was to end the unrest and in return secure an easing of an Israeli-Egyptian blockade of Gaza.
Israel accuses Hamas of orchestrating the demonstrations to provide cover for attacks and distract from Gaza’s economic plight.
Hamas seized control of Gaza from Western-backed Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in 2007 and has since fought three wars with Israel, most recently in 2014.