PHOTOS: Gazans Protest Again; Palestinian Officials Say 8 Killed By Israel : The Two-Way This brings the total number of dead to at least 29 since last week. On Friday, thousands of Palestinians once again gathered to demonstrate for the right to return to lands in today's Israel.
NPR logo PHOTOS: Gazans Protest Again; Palestinian Officials Say 8 Killed By Israel

PHOTOS: Gazans Protest Again; Palestinian Officials Say 8 Killed By Israel

Palestinians carry a protester injured during clashes with Israeli security forces on the Gaza-Israel border on Friday. Mahmud Hams/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Mahmud Hams/AFP/Getty Images

Palestinians carry a protester injured during clashes with Israeli security forces on the Gaza-Israel border on Friday.

Mahmud Hams/AFP/Getty Images

Updated Saturday 9:42 a.m. ET

Palestinian health officials say eight Palestinian protesters were shot dead by Israeli fire at border demonstrations Friday, including a Palestinian photojournalist wearing a protective vest marked, "Press." This caps a week of the largest demonstrations and worst violence that Gaza has seen in years.

The Israeli army had no immediate comment on the deaths.

Tthe total death toll from a week of protests is at least 29, according to Palestinian health officials.

On Friday, thousands of Palestinians once again gathered to demonstrate near the border with Israel "for the right to return to lands in today's Israel," as NPR's Daniel Estrin reported from the scene.

An injured Palestinian protester is carried by fellow demonstrators during a protest east of Khan Yunis in Gaza. Said Khatib /AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Said Khatib /AFP/Getty Images

Palestinians say this is a peaceful demonstration. In a series of protest encampments, families fly kites and food trucks are parked to support the demonstration.

Israel accuses the Hamas militant group, which controls Gaza, of trying to turn the border area into a combat zone. Daniel said he heard gunfire and saw tear gas in the area immediately next to the border. Black smoke billowed from the area, he said, as young Palestinians brought tires down to the border to burn. Some threw rocks at the soldiers.

Palestinian demonstrators burned tires in order to create a smoke screen to block the view of Israel forces. Mahmud Hams/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Mahmud Hams/AFP/Getty Images

"Palestinians are actually calling today the 'Day of Tires,' because they said they were going to burn tires to create a smokescreen so that Israeli soldiers on the other side of the border fence wouldn't be able to see them," Daniel added.

Among those reported wounded today was a Palestinian photojournalist, as Daniel reported. "Photos show him wearing a protective vest marked PRESS."

Palestinian youth brought tires close to the border to burn during Friday's protests. Mahmud Hams /AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Mahmud Hams /AFP/Getty Images

Israel maintains it is simply protecting its border and its troops. It has released video that appears to show several Palestinians trying to break through the border fence.

Rights groups have criticized Israel for disproportionate use of force against people who pose no immediate threat. Videos circulated on social media appear to show Israeli forces firing at Palestinians some distance away from the fence.

And while Hamas is vocally backing these demonstrations, which are intended to last six weeks, many Palestinians are participating because of the dismal living conditions in Gaza.

The area has been under blockade by Israel and Egypt for a decade. Gazans get only a few hours of electricity every day and have extremely limited water. The unemployment rate is at more than 40 percent.

Israeli security forces deployed near the Israeli border with the southern Gaza Strip watch smoke rising from the Palestinian village of Khuzaa. Menahem Kahana/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Menahem Kahana/AFP/Getty Images

"Palestinians said last week when the protest began, hundreds were injured by Israeli fire. Israel has disputed that, said that only tens of Palestinians were injured," Daniel reported. At a hospital he visited – one of many treating wounded people in Gaza – "they said that they had had at least 100 people in surgery for serious wounds."

Protest organizers are vowing to continue demonstrating for six weeks, until mid-May.

Smoke billows from a protest in Gaza on Friday, as seen from the southern Israeli kibbutz of Mefallesim. Jack Guez/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Jack Guez/AFP/Getty Images
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