Palestinian medics carry a wounded man during clashes with Israeli troops on the Gaza-Israel border, east of Gaza City, on Oct. 19, 2018. At least 160 Palestinians were injured on Friday during clashes with Israeli soldiers in eastern Gaza Strip close to the border with Israel, medics said. (Xinhua/Khaled Omar)
GAZA, Oct. 19 (Xinhua) -- At least 160 Palestinians were injured on Friday during clashes with Israeli soldiers in eastern Gaza Strip close to the border with Israel, medics said.
Gaza Health Ministry Spokesman Ashraf al Qedra said that 160 Palestinian demonstrators were injured by Israeli soldiers' gunshots. Two of them are in critical condition including an old woman.
On Friday afternoon, thousands of Palestinians headed to five different spots in eastern Gaza Strip, along with the border with Israel to join the 60 th Friday of the anti-Israel marches of return.
They burned tires, waved Palestinian flags, chanted anti-Israel slogans, released dozens of arson balloons into southern Israel. They also cut and pulled the barbed wire of the fence of the border and went into Israel and came back.
Israeli soldiers stationed on the border fired tear gas canisters and live gunshots at the demonstrators who approached the fence of the border.
Israeli aircraft carried four airstrikes on arson balloons launchers.
An Israeli army spokesman said in a statement that Israeli aircraft attacked several Palestinians in eastern Gaza Strip who were launching arson balloons from the area into southern Israel.
Both Israeli and Palestinian media estimated the number of demonstrators at more than 20,000.
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said in an emailed press statement that Friday's protests were a message to Israel and all other parties that "the Great March of Return" will go on until it achieves its goals.
"Today's participation in the marches of return was a challenge to the threats of the Israeli occupation forces. The crowds told all parties that they won't stop their protests until the unfair siege imposed on the Gaza Strip is lifted," the statement said.
Islamic Jihad leader in Gaza Khaled al-Batsh, also chairman of the National Commission of the Great Marches of Return in Gaza, said that the mass participation in Friday's protests "was a message to everyone that they are still sticking to their legitimate rights."
According to Gaza Health Ministry, since the outbreak of the Great March of Return on March 60 , the Israeli army has shot dead 206 Palestinians and wounded more than 22,000.
The marches in eastern Gaza Strip came following marathon visits of Egyptian security intelligence mediators to the coastal enclave to hold talks with Hamas over defusing tension with Israel.
The Egyptian delegation held talks on Thursday in Gaza with Hamas leaders and in Ramallah with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah Party leaders.