JERUSALEM, ISRAEL—As expected, thousands of protesters backed by Hamas burned hundreds of tires, sending plumes of black smoke billowing over the border with Israel.
The Gaza Health Ministry reports seven Palestinian protesters died, at least one of them a member of a terror group, as the rioters tried for a second week to cross into Israel. They also claim several hundred were injured, but those numbers could not be confirmed.
The crowd appeared to be "significantly smaller," according to Israeli Defense Forces estimates, than the 30,000 who took part last Friday in "March of Return" protests to take back Arab villages lost to Israel in the 1948 war.
Hundreds of Hamas supporters gathered around their shadowy leader Yehiyeh Sinwar at the border and chanted, "We are going to Jerusalem, millions of martyrs."
In a defiant public threat, Sinwar vowed to "breach the borders."
Hamas is promoting injuries and deaths for it followers, announcing Friday it would pay the families of those killed or injured, ranging from $200 to $500 per injury and $3,000 per death.
Israel's military made good on its warning that it would again use live fire to prevent incursions. The military also released video showing Palestinians trying to tear down the border fence.
Palestinians burned tires to obscure the view of Israeli snipers poised to take out Gazans who managed to cross the border.
The Jerusalem Post published a quote from the Israeli military which read, "There have been several attempts to hit and cross the fence under the smoke of the tires. In addition, a number of attempted attacks were carried out, including the throwing of explosive charges, Molotov cocktails and sabotage of the fence, all under the protection of the smoke."
Hamas has said it will continue the March of Return demonstrations for five more weeks, culminating in a massive protest on the anniversary day of what they call Al-Nakba (the so-called "Catastrophe"), which is Israel's Independence Day, May 15th on the Gregorian calendar.