The Palestinian Health Ministry says the death toll in Gaza has risen to 12, with 11 Palestinians killed by Israeli army fire along the border with Israel and a farmer killed by pre-dawn tank fire in a separate incident. In the deadliest day in Gaza since last fall, the ministry added that at least 1,000 Palestinians were injured Friday by tear gas, live rounds, and rubber-coated steel pellets fired by Israeli forces, per the AP. The clashes erupted as thousands of Palestinians marched toward the border, including some who threw stones, drawing Israeli fire. The protests marked the launch of what Gaza's Hamas rulers envision as a six-week-long campaign of mass sit-ins along the border, meant to spotlight the demand of uprooted Palestinians and their descendants to return to what is now Israel.
It's also seen as a new attempt by Hamas to break a decade-old Gaza border blockade. Maj. Gen. Eyal Zamir, commander of the Israeli military's Southern Command, which includes the border, said on Friday that "we are identifying attempts to carry out terror attacks under the camouflage of riots." He urged Gaza residents to stay away from the border, and held Hamas responsible for any violence there. The Israeli military said thousands participated in the clashes, and that troops opened fire at the "main instigators." The military also says it won't tolerate damage to the barrier and will hold Hamas responsible.