Israeli troops fired across the border into the Gaza Strip Friday, killing at least four Palestinians and wounding more than a dozen others as tensions between the two sides surged.
Israel’s military said about 200 Palestinians in Gaza advanced on the border during a demonstration and thew rocks and rolled burning tires toward soldiers stationed on the other side. It said forces opened fired on the “main instigators” to stop their advance.
The demonstration was called in solidarity with Palestinians in Jerusalem and the West Bank, following a spate of stabbings carried out mostly by Palestinians on Israeli citizens and Israeli reprisals.
The Gaza-based leader of the Islamic militant group Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, urged Palestinians Friday to step up their fight against Israel. He described the recent surge in violence in Jerusalem and the West Bank as an uprising, or “Intifada.”
The Gaza border has been mostly quiet since last year’s war between Israel and Hamas, which rules the territory; but, several rockets have been fired recently at Israel from Gaza.
In Jerusalem Friday, a Palestinian stabbed an Israeli teenager, wounding him lightly. Police say the attacker was later arrested. Also Friday, an Israeli stabbed and wounded at least three Palestinians in an apparent revenge attack.
Tensions between the two sides are growing mainly over the East Jerusalem holy site revered by Muslims as the al-Aqsa mosque and by Jews as the Temple Mount. The violence, mainly in Jerusalem, has left at least four Israelis and five Palestinians dead and about 10 other Israelis stabbed, and prompted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to cancel a trip to Germany that had been scheduled for this week.