Protesters streamed to the frontier for the climax of a six-week demonstration as the United States prepared to open its embassy in Quds (Jerusalem).
Protests were expected to escalate during the day, the Nakba Day which marks the anniversary of the establishment of the illegitimate Zionist regime of Israel, as loudspeakers on Gaza mosques urged Palestinians to join the Great March of Return.
Israeli troops have killed more than 50 Palestinians since the demonstrations began on March 30.
The death toll has drawn international criticism, but the United States, which has drawn Muslims’ anger by the decision to relocate its embassy to al-Quds from Tel Aviv, has echoed Israel in accusing Gaza’s ruling Hamas movement of instigating violence.
Sending reinforcements to the Gaza border, the Israeli military dropped leaflets into the enclave on Monday, warning Palestinians “not to serve as a tool of Hamas” or approach or damage Israel’s frontier fence, Reuters reported.
But thousands of Palestinians massed at five locations along the line, and at least 28, including two local journalists, were wounded by Israeli gunfire, the Palestinian Red Crescent said.
The protests are scheduled to culminate on Tuesday, the day Palestinians mourn as the “Nakba” or “Catastrophe” when, in 1948, hundreds of thousands of them were driven out of their homes.
The Israeli military claims its troops are defending the border and firing in accordance with the rules of engagement.
Palestinian witnesses said Israeli aircraft also dropped flammable material on Monday to burn tires that protesters had stacked in preparation for them to be set on fire and rolled at the fence.
The Israelis also fired tear gas at people inside the tented encampments that have sprung up along the border, witnesses said.