Four Palestinians dead following explosion in Gaza

Another Palestinian dies

One Palestinian has been killed during fresh unrest along the Israel/Gaza border, as thousands of Palestinians gathered for mass protests.

According to initial reports, the four were said to be killed by Israeli army fire; the Palestinian Health Ministry reported that the bodies were taken to a hospital in the city.

Israeli forces fired tear gas, rubber-coated steel pellets and live rounds.

Protesters have set up tented camps near the frontier as a protest dubbed "The Great March of Return" - evoking a longtime call for refugees to regain ancestral homes in what is now Israel - moved into its third week.

That is the day Palestinians will mark the 70th anniversary of the "Nakba" or "Catastrophe", when hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were displaced amid violence culminating in war between newly created Israel and its Arab neighbours in May 1948.

The military has said it will not allow protesters to break through the fence and the country's defence minister, Avigdor Lieberman, has warned protesters they are putting their lives in danger if they approach it.

Israel and Egypt have enforced a blockade since Hamas overran the territory in 2007.

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Ten other people were shot dead last Friday, April 6, in similar demonstrations (more than 20,000 people) near the border fence that separates the Strip from Israeli territory, so the total number of Palestinian deaths has increased to 31 during the past two weeks.

Gaza's Health Ministry said more than 1,300 Palestinians were wounded by live fire in the past two weeks. Seven were killed in other circumstances, including six militants engaged in apparent attempts to carry out attacks or infiltrate Israel.

"Medical teams are still searching the area", he said. The Ministry said a total of 969 were injured on Friday. He said the Israeli military is "operating against it (Hamas) with determination and according to worldwide law".

Organizers of the protests have said they are meant to be "nonviolent resistance".

The group said in a statement that it was "mourning its fighters who were martyred during preparations".

The group has been criticized in Israel for publishing often anonymous testimony by current or former Israeli soldiers who have misgivings about their military service and treatment of Palestinians.

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