Palestinian students attend a protest calling for an end of the Israeli blockade to the Gaza Strip. (Reuters: Suhaib Salem)
A protest against Israel’s blockade of the Gaza strip has ended without major incident.

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Israeli officials had feared a repeat of scenes from last month when Hamas militants broke open the border between Gaza and Egypt.

Thousands of Gazans held hands and signs calling on Israel to lift its blockade.

The Israeli military strengthened its forces surrounding the strip in case the protesters rushed the barrier between the two territories.

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However, Hamas militia men kept most of the protesters back from the main crossing point.

Dozens of youths were still able to throw stones at Israeli troops stationed nearby.

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The Israeli military says the troops fired into the air to disperse the crowd and then detained nearly 50 people.

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As the protest was breaking up, militants fired several rockets across the border into the Israeli town of Sderot and badly wounded a 10-year-old boy.

* By Middle East correspondent Matt Brown