14 Palestinians injured in Gaza border riots

About a thousand Palestinians rioted along the Gaza border on Wednesday afternoon, with the IDF responding with tear gas and live fire towards Palestinians who neared the border fence. At least 14 Palestinians were reportedly injured, including five by live fire, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.

Incendiary and explosive balloon launches also continued from the Gaza Strip towards Israel on Wednesday. According to the Palestinian Al-Ayyam news, the balloon units are still operating at less than half their capacity.

A statement on Tuesday by Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip called for large crowds to participate in the protest event on Wednesday, which the factions described as “peaceful.” The riots on Saturday were also described as “peaceful.”

Palestinian factions warned earlier this week that they would respond if any protesters were injured at the event on Wednesday.

Shortly after the border riots ended on Wednesday, Palestinian media reported that Israeli naval vessels fired towards Palestinian fishing boats.

A few hours after the riots ended, the IDF announced that a Palestinian was arrested after he attempted to infiltrate from the southern Gaza Strip into Israel. The suspect was unarmed and questioned on the spot.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz stressed on Wednesday during a situation evaluation before the riots that Israel “has no interests in Gaza other than peace and the return of the boys – the obstacle to the prosperity and development of the Gaza Strip is Hamas led by [Yahya] Sinwar.”

Gantz added that Israel has a number of tools to deal with Gaza, including the means to aid and develop the coastal enclave for the benefit of its inhabitants, but also plans and military means if force is needed. “The reality on the ground will determine which tools we will use,” warned Gantz.

Palestinian Islamic Jihad official Muhammad al-Hindi that the Palestinian factions had agreed on popular activities against the blockade on the Gaza Strip. “The enemy cannot enjoy calm while denying Gaza medicine and food,” said al-Hindi, according to Palestinian media.

A Hamas spokesperson warned during the riots that the Palestinians would escalate their measures until the blockade is lifted.

The event comes just days after a Border Police officer was shot and critically injured by a Palestinian terrorist during riots along the Gaza border on Saturday. Some 41 Palestinians were also injured during the riots on Saturday.

Osama Khaled Duaij, a member of Hamas’s military wing, the Al-Qassam Brigades, succumbed on Wednesday to injuries he sustained during the riots on Saturday.

Funeral of Palestinian Osama Deeij in the northern Gaza Strip, August 2021 (credit: MOHAMMED SALEM/REUTERS)

The Palestinian factions have threatened to continue “popular activities,” including border protests, until the blockade on the Gaza Strip is lifted and Qatari funds are transferred into the coastal enclave.

The Rafah Crossing between Egypt and Gaza remained closed for a third day on Wednesday, although the crossings with Israel remained open, with Palestinian media reporting that 125 vehicles were imported into the Strip through the Erez Crossing on Wednesday morning.

The Gaza Interior Ministry announced on Wednesday that the Rafah Crossing will be opened in the direction of Gaza on Thursday to allow stranded Palestinians to return to Gaza and allow the entry of goods. The crossing is expected to open in both directions starting on Sunday.

The Rafah Crossing was reportedly closed as punishment for the riots on Saturday. Army Radio reported on Tuesday that Egypt also made the decision to not allow travelers with a Palestinian passport to land in Cairo.

The IDF struck Hamas targets in Gaza on Saturday night in response to the border riots earlier that day and on Monday night in response to a number of fires sparked by incendiary balloons.