By Nour Abu Aisha
GAZA CITY, Palestine
Thousands of Palestinians converged along the Gaza Strip's eastern border with Israel for the third Friday of ongoing protests against Israel’s decades-long occupation.
Protesters waved Palestinian flags -- and others set fire to Israeli ones -- while chanting pro-resistance slogans along the border fence.
The rallies began on Mar. 30, when tens of thousands of Palestinians gathered at different points along the border to demand that they be allowed to return to their homes in historical Palestine.
According to the Palestinian Health Ministry, at least 30 Palestinians were injured on Friday amid attempts by the Israeli army to disperse demonstrators.
“Thirty protesters were injured, one of them critically, east of [the city of] Khan Yunis,” ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra told Anadolu Agency.
According to witnesses, Israeli forces used teargas against a field hospital set up near the border.
“The Israeli army targeted a field hospital near Khan Yunis with teargas, hindering the work of medics,” read a ministry statement.
In a related development, hundreds of Palestinians turned out for the funeral of Abdullah Mohamed al-Shehri, a 28-year-old Palestinian who was martyred Thursday after having been struck by cross-border Israeli gunfire.
At least 33 Palestinians have been martyred by Israeli army gunfire since the demonstrations began three weeks ago, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.
The rallies are part of a six-week demonstration that will culminate on May 15. That day will mark the 70th anniversary of Israel's establishment -- an event Palestinians refer to as the "Nakba" or "Catastrophe".
Demonstrators demand that Palestinian refugees be granted the "right of return" to their towns and villages in historical Palestine from which they were driven in 1948 to make way for the new state of Israel.