(Bloomberg) -- At least four Palestinians were killed by Israeli gunfire in a fourth straight Friday of protests near the Gaza Strip’s border, but participation was significantly down on previous weeks.
At least 100 were injured, Gaza’s Hamas-run Health Ministry said. Israel’s army estimated about 10,000 Palestinians demonstrated, down from as many as 40,000 in the first week.
Israel said some protesters attempted to fly kites with burning items attached to them while others set fire to tires adjacent to the border fence. Palestinian officials say most of the demonstrators are peaceful. The rallies aim to highlight the Palestinians’ plight as refugees 70 years after Israel’s creation and as the U.S. prepares to move its embassy in mid-May from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, part of which the Palestinians claim as the capital of a future state.
The demonstrations have struck a chord with many in Gaza who see little reason for optimism with the peace process with Israel halted and the territory’s economy hollowed out by an embargo and war. At least 34 Palestinians were killed in the first three weeks of protests, and hundreds were injured by live fire, according to health officials.
Considered a terrorist group by the U.S. and Europe, Hamas adopted the protests as its rocket threat has been hindered by Israel’s Iron Dome missile-defense system and its attack tunnels rendered obsolete by an underground barrier Israel is building.
Palestinians plan to cap their protests with a march to the border on May 15, the date they mark the “Nakba,” or the catastrophe of their displacement at Israel’s 1948 creation. Israel fears that protest may become a mass attempt to breach the fence separating Gaza from Israel.
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