An Israeli tank struck a Hamas post in the Gaza Strip Friday evening after a fragmentation grenade was hurled at troops during mass riots in several locations along the border.
The army said the strike came in response to the grenade attack on its forces. There were no Israel casualties in the attack.
Around 9,000 Palestinians were participating in weekly border protests. Some protesters were rioting near the fence, throwing rocks at Israeli soldiers and burning tires to create a smokescreen. In one incident a fragmentation grenade was thrown towards Israeli troops, but caused no casualties. Several attempts were made to breach the security fence.
The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry reported that a Palestinian medic, 22-year-old Abdullah al-Qatati, was killed by Israeli fire. It said 84 people were hurt, of which 25 were shot by Israeli troops.
Some rioters flew incendiary kites and balloons into Israel. Israeli officials said at least six fires had broken out in Israeli territory since the morning due to airborne arson attacks.
Hamas had earlier said the so-called “March of Return” border demonstrations would continue unimpeded, despite a cessation of hostilities with Israel clinched the night before.
The announcement came after a 12-hour lull in fighting, following two days that saw the heaviest exchange of Palestinian rocket fire and reprisal Israeli airstrikes since the 2014 Gaza war.
Hamas said a ceasefire had been reached “on the basis of mutual calm” and went into effect at midnight. It said the deal was mediated by Egypt and other regional players. Israel denied there was a truce, but a senior Israeli official told Israel Radio that “quiet would be met with quiet.” There were no instances of violence reported along the border overnight.
On Friday evening the Israeli air force said it had completed deployment of Iron Dome missile defense batteries in central Israel, preparing for the possibility of further escalation.
For the past four months there have been near-weekly, violent protests along the Israel-Gaza border organized by Gaza’s Hamas rulers.
The terror group’s spokesman Hazem Qassim tweeted that demonstrators would continue to “break the siege” on the Gaza Strip.
“Every time the Israeli killing machine attempts to break our people’s will to continue its struggle and marches, it fails to do so,” he wrote. “Today our people will head to the ‘Marches of Return’ to challenge the Israeli war machine.”
“Our Palestinian people has a long-lasting, struggling soul,” the Hamas spokesperson wrote. “It will continue its resistance in all of its forms until it gains its freedom, independence and right to a dignified life.”
Over the past four months the “March of Return” protests have led to deadly clashes which saw Israeli security forces facing gunfire, grenades, Molotov cocktails, and efforts — sometimes successful — to damage or cross the border fence.
At least 160 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since the weekly protests began, the Hamas ministry says. Hamas has acknowledged that dozens of those killed were its members.
One Israeli soldier was shot dead by a Palestinian sniper.
In addition to the border clashes, southern Israel has experienced hundreds of fires as a result of incendiary kites and balloons flown over the border from Gaza. Over 7,000 acres of land have been burned, causing millions of shekels in damages, according to Israeli officials.
Adam Rasgon contributed to this report.