Seven Palestinians killed by Israeli fire as Gaza protests continue

The “March of Return” protests are in support of refugees who have been forced from their homes

Seven Palestinians killed by Israeli fire as Gaza protests continue

Palestinian protesters run for cover from tear gas canisters during clashes on the Gaza-Israel border, 07-04-2018. Image: Khaled Omar/Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

Updated 19:30

Israeli forces have reportedly shot dead seven Palestinians during fresh protests along the Gaza-Israel border.

The Associated Press reports that the protesters were killed as Palestinians set piles of tires on fire in an effort to create a smoke screen to block the view of snipers.

The deaths would bring to the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli fire over the past week to 29.

Gaza’s Health Ministry said 1,070 people have been hospitalised as a result of the clashes – 19 of whom were in a serious condition.

The ministry said eight women and 40 children were among the wounded.

It said 293 people were hit with live fire.

Palestinian protesters burn tires during clashes with Israeli forces along the Israeli-Gaza border, 06-04-2018. Image:  Wissam Nassar/DPA/PA Images

The Israeli military has claimed that troops opened fire when protesters attempted to breach a fence marking the frontier.

Israeli Defence Forces claim the militant group Hamas is using the rallies to launch attacks on the Israeli border.

The protests saw thousands of Palestinians making their way to five tent encampments that were set up a few hundred metres form the border fence.

Today’s demonstrations mark the second week of a six-week long “March of Return” in support of refugees who have been forced from their homes.

Organisers have called for the protests to remain peaceful.

The protests began on March 30th to mark Land Day - a day of commemoration to mark the deaths in Israel of six unarmed Arab protesters in 1976.

Demonstrations are set to end on May 15th, when Palestinians commemorate the anniversary of the creation of Israel (known by Palestinians as the 'Nakba' or 'catastrophe').

A Palestinian protester burns tires during clashes with Israeli forces along the Israeli-Gaza border, 06-04-2018. Image:   Stringer/Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

Ahead of today’s action, UN Secretary General Antonio Gutteres called on all parties to “avoid confrontation and exercise maximum restraint.”

“I particularly urge Israel to exercise extreme caution with the use of force in order to avoid casualties,” he said.

“Civilians must be able to exercise their right to demonstrate peacefully.

"I again stress the urgency to accelerate efforts to return to meaningful negotiations that will eventually allow Palestinians and Israelis to live in two democratic states side by side in peace and within secure and recognised borders.”