Palestinians protested Wednesday for the annual commemoration of what they call the Nakba, or catastrophe, when hundreds of thousands were expelled or fled during the 1948 war surrounding the creation of Israel.
Thousands gathered at various locations along the volatile border fence between Israel and the Gaza Strip, while crowds also demonstrated in the occupied West Bank.
Protests and clashes in Gaza a year earlier, which coincided with the controversial move of the US embassy to Israel to Jerusalem, had seen more than 60 Palestinians killed by Israeli fire but Wednesday’s were far smaller.
The clashes on Wednesday erupted along parts of the border fence, with the health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza reporting 65 people injured, including 16 with gunshot wounds.
Protesters largely avoided approaching the fence, an AFP journalist said.
The AFP journalist on the border saw a number of kites being floated across the border and a fire breaking out inside Israeli territory.
Palestinians in Gaza have regularly used kites with firebombs attached to them to set fires on the Israeli side of the fence.
Israel’s military said around 10,000 “rioters and demonstrators” were along the Gaza fence.
“The rioters are setting tires on fire and hurling rocks,” it said in a statement.
“A number of explosive devices have been hurled within the Gaza Strip as well, and a number of attempts have been made to approach the security fence.”
It said “troops are responding with riot dispersal means.”
In the West Bank city of Ramallah, protesters held up giant paper keys to symbolize their will to return to the lands and homes they were expelled from or were forced to abandon, now located inside Israel.
Palestinians commemorate the Nakba every year.