GAZA, Jan. 11 (Xinhua) -- Clashes broke out on Friday afternoon between hundreds of Palestinian demonstrators and Israeli soldiers in eastern Gaza Strip, close to the border with Israel, eyewitnesses and paramedics said.
They said that a number of protesters were injured by Israeli soldiers' live gunshots, rubber bullets and tear gas during clashes that were expected to go on for few hours.
Friday's protests are part of the weekly anti-Israel marches of return which started at the end of last March. It is the 42nd Friday of protests which is called "Our steadfastness would break the (Israeli siege).
Hundreds of protesters gathered on Friday afternoon in eastern Gaza Strip, close to the border with Israel, waving Palestinian flags and chanting anti-Israel slogans, eyewitnesses said.
A number of arson balloons were released on Friday afternoon from eastern Gaza Strip into southern Israel, according to Israeli media reports and eyewitnesses in Gaza.
The highest commission of the marches of return and breaking the siege called on Gaza populations to join rallies and marches, stressing that this Friday is called "Friday of breaking the siege."
The marches of return in eastern Gaza are taking place as a senior Egyptian security intelligence delegation has been in Gaza since Thursday in a bid to defuse tension with Israel.
The delegation, who left the Gaza Strip to the West Bank in the afternoon, informed Hamas leaders and other factions leaders that Israel is committed to the calm understanding Egypt and the UN had brokered in November between Hamas and Israel.
Since November, the activists stopped launching arson balloons into Israel and kept the weekly protests on a low profile. However, they threatened that they would resume arson balloons attacks after Israel refused to transfer the third installment of Qatari grant to Gaza to pay the salaries of Hamas civil employees.
Since the marches of return started, the Israeli army shot and killed more than 240 demonstrators and wounded 25,000 others, according to Gaza Health Ministry reports.
The arson balloons unit in Gaza resumed on Friday releasing arson balloons from eastern Gaza Strip into southern Israel, according to a press statement signed by the unit.
Israeli media reported and eyewitnesses said that Israeli soldiers stationed on the borderline area with eastern Gaza opened fire at a group of Palestinian activists who were trying to cut the barbed wire of the borders fence between eastern Gaza and Israel. No injuries were reported.