JERUSALEM, April 6 (Xinhua) -- About 20,000 Palestinians demonstrated in five locations along the Israel-Gaza border on Friday, the second climax of a six-week anti-Israel rally known as the "Great March of Return."
During the day of bloody confrontations with Israeli border soldiers, eight Palestinians were killed and about 1,300 others wounded, according to Palestinian sources.
Earlier in the day, the UN human rights office deplored the reported use of "excessive force" by Israeli soldiers during last week's protests in Gaza, where at least 16 people were killed and more than 1,000 others injured.
This Friday's protest, however, was smaller in scale than that of last Friday, which was estimated to bring together about 30,000 Palestinians.
The Israeli military responded with riot dispersal means, and fired in accordance with the rules of engagement, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) said in a statement issued on Friday afternoon.
Attempts were made by Palestinians to infiltrate into Israel under the cover of a smoke screen, in addition to explosive devices and firebombs thrown toward IDF soldiers and attempts to damage the security fence, the IDF said.
"The IDF will not allow any harm of the security infrastructure or the security fence that protects Israeli civilians, and will act against the violent rioters and terrorists who attempt to do so," it noted.
Thick smoke created by burning tires partially blocked the vision of the protests, but gun shots and shouting could be clearly heard.
"We have seen many attempts to place bombs along the fence, attempts to cross the fence and attempts to sabotage the fence," said Israeli military Spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus at the spot near the border between southern Israel and northern Gaza.
"Our concern is that Hamas will try to use these riots as a disguise and send terrorist operatives to go through the fence and then attack Israeli targets," Conricus explained.
"If rioters continue an approach toward the fence, what we do is to use live ammunition very deliberately and specifically against people who are trying to sabotage the fence, throw molotov cocktails, or do any other type of activity which is a clear threat to infrastructure or to our soldiers," he noted.
The Israeli military on Thursday threatened Hamas with a tougher military response to another planned Friday demonstration on Israel's border with Gaza.
Last Friday, the first day of the "Great March of Return" rally, ended with the death of 16 Palestinians and the injury of over 1,000 others, the Palestinian health ministry reported.