GAZA, March 8 (Xinhua) -- At least five Palestinians were shot and injured on Friday afternoon by Israeli soldiers' gunfire during clashes in eastern Gaza Strip, close to the border with Israel, medics said.
Ashraf al-Qedra, spokesman of the Health Ministry in Gaza, said in a text message that among the five injured Palestinians, one is in critical condition.
The clashes, which broke out on Friday afternoon between hundreds of Palestinian protesters and Israeli soldiers in eastern Gaza Strip close to the border with Israel, were part of the weekly anti-Israel rallies, better known as "the Great March of Return."
Marches of Return and Breaking the Israeli Siege have started on March 30 calling on Israel to end around 12 years of a blockade that has been imposed on the coastal enclave since 2007.
The demonstrators gathered on Friday afternoon in eastern Gaza Strip, close to the fence of the border with Israel, waved Palestinian flags, burned tires, chanted anti-Israel slogans and threw stones at the soldiers stationed on the border.
Eyewitnesses and paramedics said that the soldiers fired dozens of tear gas canisters and opened fire at the crowds of the demonstrators to prevent them from reaching the barbed wire of the fence of the border.
The clashes broke out while dozens of arson balloons carrying explosives were released from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel. No damages or injuries were reported, according to Israel Radio.
The Highest Commission of the Marches of Return and Breaking the Siege had earlier called in a statement on the populations to join the 50th Friday to mark the International Women's Day.
Health Ministry officials said that since the outbreak of the weekly protests and rallies on March 30, the Israeli army shot dead more than 260 Palestinians and wounded more than 26,000 others.