A wounded Palestinian is evacuated during clashes with Israeli occupation troops at a protest where Palestinians demand the right to return to their homeland, at Gaza border. Image Credit: Reuters

Gaza: Five Palestinians were killed on Friday by Israeli occupation troops firing from across the strip’s border, as hundreds of Palestinians flocked to the frontier for the fourth weekly protest.

In one area, several dozen Palestinians moved toward the border fence.

Some threw stones and others flew kites with burning rags dangling from their tails, part of a new tactic aimed at setting fields on the Israeli side on fire.

Earlier Friday, Israeli military aircraft had dropped leaflets urging Palestinians to stay away from the protests and warning that they endanger their lives by doing so.

In the past three weeks, 28 Palestinians were killed and more than one thousand wounded by Israeli troops firing from across the border fence.

On Friday, a 25-year-old Palestinian was critically wounded in the head by Israeli army fire and later died of his injuries, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.

The man was hit in the border area, east of the town of Jebaliya, but the ministry did not provide more details.

Israel has faced international criticism for its response to the mass peaceful marches.

Rights groups have branded open-fire orders as unlawful, saying they effectively permit soldiers to use potentially lethal force against unarmed protesters.

The protests are to continue at least until May 15, the anniversary of Israel’s 1948 creation.

Palestinians mark the day as their “nakba,” or catastrophe, when hundreds of thousands fled or were driven from their homes by Israeli soldiers.

On Thursday, organisers moved sit-in protest tents, each set up several hundred meters from the border, closer to the fence.

Organisers said they will gradually move the camps toward the fence until May 15, but have made conflicting comments about a possible mass border breach.

Hamas says the protests are aimed at breaking a crippling border blockade that was imposed by Israel and Egypt after the Islamist militant group overran the territory in 2007, a year after winning Palestinian parliament elections.

The marches also press for the return of Palestinian refugees and their descendants to what is now Israel.

The mass marches are fueled by growing desperation among Gaza’s 2 million residents who have lived under Israeli blockade for over 10 years.

The border blockade has trapped nearly all of them in the tiny coastal territory, gutted the economy and deepened poverty.

Gaza residents typically get fewer than five hours of electricity per day, while unemployment has soared above 40 per cent.