GAZA CITY — Thousands of Palestinians flocked to the fence separating Gaza from Israel on Friday, and Israeli soldiers repulsed repeated attempts to cross the barrier with tear gas and live fire, as demonstrations that had already left dozens killed and thousands injured entered a third week.
At least 363 protesters were injured, including 59 by gunshots and many others by tear gas, and 107 were hospitalized, the Gaza Health Ministry said. Ten of the wounded were nurses and paramedics in Khan Younis. One man died of earlier injuries, bringing the protests’ overall death toll to 34, the ministry said.
At the Shejaiya protest site east of Gaza City, demonstrators again used thick smoke from burning tires as cover, successfully pulling apart an Israeli barrier of coiled barbed wire before being shot at and turning back.
Israeli soldiers liberally fired tired gas canisters into a large crowd as far as 350 yards from the fence, sending men, women and children running, as ambulances ferried away the injured.
The theme of the day for the protests was “Flag Friday” — burning the Israeli blue and white, and raising giant standards with the Palestinian red, white, green and black. Gaza printers had been busy all week with an unusual assignment: Preparing thousands of Israeli flags to set on fire.
Less than a week before Israel will celebrate its Independence Day, Palestinian children held posters showing Israel’s flag crossed out in red, with a slogan calling for the country’s demise.
Protesters arriving at one encampment, in Khan Younis, trod on or rode motorcycles and even a camel over an elongated Israeli flag, with its Star of David, before heading toward the fence separating Gaza from Israel. The demonstrations were part of a mass protest against Israel’s decade-long blockade of Gaza, an impoverished coastal strip along the Mediterranean.
The Israeli military said there had been repeated attempts to damage and cross the barrier, as well as several attempted attacks in which Palestinians hurled explosives at Israeli soldiers, drawing live fire in return.
Once again, the protests showed something of a split personality, with some participants vowing to be peaceful, while a few feet away, others prepared gasoline bombs to hurl at the Israeli side.
The demonstrations began on March 30, as organizers called for tens of thousands of people to gather near the border fence each Friday through May 15. Defying Israeli warnings, some protesters have approached the fence, throwing things and setting fires; Israeli soldiers have fired on the demonstrators, many of them unarmed.
Earlier, an imam leading prayers at the Shejaiya protest site called on several hundred worshipers to rise up against “the occupier,” and urged them to continue to “be creative” in their modes of protest. While Hamas, the Islamic militant group that runs Gaza and is managing the demonstrations, has insisted that the marchers are being strictly peaceful, the cleric’s message was homicidal.
“There will be a day that Muslims are going to witness,” the imam said, quoting holy verses. “This day, Jews will be behind stones, and the stones will speak, saying, ‘Come Muslims, and kill this Jew who is behind me.’ ”
Several hundred yards to the east, Israeli soldiers could be glimpsed atop newly heightened berms affording a commanding view of the protest field.
To the south, in Khan Younis, Palestinian journalists memorialized Yasser Murtaja, a journalist who was killed during the protests a week ago. The Israeli military has accused him of being an officer in the military wing of Hamas. But his image was plastered across posters and banners all over the tent village that declared him a national hero who died for the truth.
Inside a tent a few hundred yards from the barrier fence, a group of young men rested before donning skeleton masks, heading out to set tires ablaze to create a smokescreen — and then attempting to cross the fence into Israel.
At one end of the tent was a trophy: a coil of barbed wire they had cut from a barrier the Israelis have set up as a deterrent. It lies a few yards from the main fence, a much taller barrier with an array of electronic sensors.
Amjad Abu Jamous, 26, said that, should he manage to get past the main fence, he hoped only to face down an Israeli soldier with his arms outstretched and his fingers in the “victory” sign. He said he would be armed with wire cutters and rope.
“When I raise the victory fingers, the Israeli soldier will know that I have nothing in my hands,” he said. “If he is a man, he won’t shoot. But I don’t trust him, as he is my enemy.”
Merely getting across the fence, he said, would “terrify” the Israelis.
“It’s a peaceful protest — we have no weapons,” he said. “I want to show the Jews that we can enter our lands without weapons, only with a slingshot and stones.”
But, he added: “If I had weapons, I would kill and abduct soldiers.”
Like others at the Khan Younis protest, Mr. Abu Jamous