Israeli soldiers on Friday killed four Palestinians and wounded more than 600 others protesting in Gaza along the fence that separates the territory from Israel, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health.
WAFA, the official Palestinian news agency, said Haitham al-Jamal, 15, and Ziad Jadallah Bureim, were shot and killed east of Khan Yunis in southern Gaza; Yousef al-Fasih, 29, was killed east of Gaza City; and Imad Nabil Abu Darabi, 26, was killed east of Jabalya, in northern Gaza.
Israeli forces fired on protesters with live ammunition and tear gas, according to WAFA. Of those wounded, 92 were hit by live fire while the rest suffered from tear gas inhalation, the news agency said.
The United Nations General Assembly announced Friday it would hold a meeting Wednesday to vote on a Palestinian resolution requesting support and protection for Gaza.
In response, Israel’s UN ambassador, Danny Danon, said, “It is unfortunate that instead of condemning the terrorists of Hamas, some countries are looking to satisfy their domestic political needs by bashing Israel at the United Nations.
“We will proudly defend our right to defend our citizens time and again, and in every forum where our adversaries seek to falsely malign us,” he added.
Thousands of Palestinians gathered at several locations along the fence on Friday, calling for their right to return to lands in present-day Israel that their ancestors fled or were expelled from 70 years ago.
Palestinian officials and rights groups have criticized the Israeli military for using deadly force against largely unarmed protesters.
In a statement on Twitter, the Israel Defense Forces said its soldiers were “using riot dispersal means and are operating in accordance with the rules of engagement.”
The IDF said some protesters used balloons and kites to send explosive devices over the fence, and that the objects exploded in the air.
The latest confrontations came after weeks of Palestinian protests, known as the Great March of Return, near the fence, during which more than 120 Palestinians – including 21-year-old medic Razan Al-Najjar – were killed by Israeli fire.
Israel has accused Hamas, which controls Gaza, of orchestrating the protests.
CNN’s Abeer Salman reported from Beit Jala and Nadeem Muaddi wrote in Atlanta. CNN’s Bethlehem Feleke and Richard Roth contributed to this report.