Palestinians Protest on Heels of Israel's 70th Birthday

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Four Palestinians were killed and hundreds more injured by Israeli troops during protests along the Gaza-Israel border Friday on the fourth straight week of demonstrations.

Gaza's health ministry said 40 people were injured, but did not say how many were wounded by gunfire or overcome by tear gas.

Today is the fourth Friday in an ongoing series of clashes at the Gaza-Israel border fence.

It accuses Hamas, with whom it has fought three wars since 2008, of using the protests as cover to carry out violence.

Earlier on Friday, Israel dropped leaflets in the Gaza Strip warning Palestinians not to approach its border fence as the military braced for fresh clashes along the frontier.

According to a statement published by Israeli army this Friday "some 3,000 Palestinians have participated in riots, trying to approach security infrastructure, near which y have burned tires and have tried to fly kites that They wore inflammable artifacts".

Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman said while touring the Israeli side of the border on Friday: "The thing that the other side must understand is that there is a determined and skilled army here".

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While Hamas and smaller Palestinian factions have taken a lead as organisers, the mass marches are also fuelled by growing desperation among Gaza's 2 million residents.

Hamas, which is sworn to Israel's destruction, denies this. Soldiers responded with tear gas and live fire, killing four Palestinians, including the 15-year-old, according to the Hamas run-health ministry.

The protest began on March 30, and has seen tent encampments spring up near the Israeli-imposed restricted zone along the 40km (25-mile) border fence. The marches also call for a "right of return" of Palestinian refugees into Israel. "Our people will outnumber the occupation and force it from our land", he said, referring to Israel.

Israel is required to withdraw from all the territories seized in the war under UN Security Council Resolution 242, adopted months after the Six-Day War, in November 1967, but the Tel Aviv regime has defied that piece of global law ever since. One white kite bore the Nazi swastika.

For protests set for Friday, Gazans were hoping to send dozens of kites over the fence, including some carrying notes telling Israelis "there is no place for you in Palestine". Such a demand would mean the end of Israel as a majority Jewish state.

The protest campaign, dubbed The Great March of Return, is leading up to May 15, when Palestinians mark Nakba Day, or the Day of Catastrophe, commemorating their displacement around the time of Israel's founding in 1948.

At previous peace talks, the Palestinians have always demanded, along with sovereignty in the West Bank, Gaza, East Jerusalem and the Old City, a "right of return" to Israel for Palestinian refugees who left or were forced out of Israel when it was established.