Seven Palestinians, including two boys aged 12 and 14, were killed in clashes with Israeli forces along the Gaza border Friday, the health ministry in the Hamas-controlled strip said.
Nasser Mosabih, 12, was shot in the head in clashes along the frontier east of Khan Yunis in southern Gaza, ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra told AFP, on what was one of the bloodiest days since protests began on March 30.
Fourteen-year-old Mohammed al-Houm, was shot dead “by live ammunition from the (Israeli) occupation forces” east of Al-Bureij in central Gaza, Qudra said.
Five adult men were also killed in widespread clashes along the border, with a further 210 people hospitalised, the spokesman added.
The Israeli army said some 20,000 “rioters” had gathered at multiple sites along the border.
It said the protestors hurled “grenades and explosive devices in several different locations”.
It said troops were firing “in accordance with standard operating procedures.”
The army declined to comment on the reported deaths.
Palestinians have been protesting at least weekly along the Gaza border since March.
At least 194 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire in that time, the majority during border protests.
Smaller numbers have been hit by airstrikes or tank fire.
One Israeli soldier was killed by a Palestinian sniper.
The protests are demanding the right of Palestinian refugees to be allowed to homes their families fled from in the 1948 war surrounding the creation of Israel and which are now in Israel.
Israel says any such mass return would mean the end of it as a Jewish state and accuses Gaza’s Islamist rulers Hamas of orchestrating the protests.
Friday’s protests were bigger than those in recent weeks.