GAZA   -  Tens of thousands of Palestinians have rallied at the Israel-Gaza fence to mark the first anniversary of the weekly ‘Great March of Return’ protests, facing off against Israeli forces massed across the perimeter.

Israeli military used live rounds, rubber bullets and tear gas on protesters on Saturday, killing a 17-year-old boy and wounding at least 59 people, according to Gaza’s health ministry.

Another Palestinian was killed in an overnight demonstration ahead of the main protest, the ministry said. The Israeli military said some 40,000 people were gathered for the mass rally.

Some hurled stones and explosive devices at the fence and set tires ablaze, the army said, adding it was responding with “riot dispersal means and firing in accordance with standard operating procedures”. Clashes appeared limited as dozens of Palestinian volunteers in fluorescent tried to keep people back. But warnings to stay far back from the heavily fortified fence were not being heeded by all.

“We will move towards the borders even if we die,” said Yusef Ziyada, 21, his face painted in the colours of the Palestinian flag. “We are not leaving. We are returning to our land.”

For the past year, the Israel-Gaza fence been the scene of mass protests and major bloodshed in which more than 260 Palestinians were killed, mostly by Israeli sniper fire. Nearly 7,000 others were shot and wounded, according to Gaza’s health ministry.

The protests call for Palestinians to have the right to return to land from which their families fled or were forced to flee during Israel’s founding in 1948.

Demonstrators also want the lifting of a security blockade imposed on the coastal enclave by Israel and Egypt. Humanitarian agencies blame the blockade for impoverishment in Gaza, a narrow coastal enclave where poverty and unemployment rates are high.

Egypt has sought to mediate between Israel and Hamas, which rules Gaza, to rein in violence and avoid the sort of deadly response from the Israeli military has accompanied past protests.

The anniversary of the Great March of Return comes only days after another severe flare-up of violence between Israel and Hamas. An Egyptian-brokered ceasefire restored calm.

Al Jazeera’s Harry Fawcett said Hamas-affiliated al-Risalah newspaper reported late on Friday that the group had reached a deal with Israel to reduce tension in the Gaza Strip.

“The Israeli concessions, according to the al-Risalah newspaper, include increasing Qatari funding from $15m to $40m a month to pay salaries; extending the fishing zone from 9 to 12 nautical miles; increasing the electricity supply from Israel into Gaza; and approving a major desalination project,” Fawcett said reporting from the area east of Gaza City.

“In return, Israel has been seeking an end to rocket fire, such as that which destroyed a family home north of Tel Aviv on Monday, injuring seven and sparking a new round of escalation.”

Meanwhile, on the eve of the anniversary protests, organisers issued instructions to demonstrators telling them to stay back from Israeli guns, follow commands of organisers on the ground, refrain from aggressive actions and not to burn tyres, a move seen as a sign that the Egyptian-brokered deal may be adhered to.

Hamas security officers at the scene of the protest were seen wearing military uniforms for the first time, as they picked up tyres and took them away.

“It looks as if they are here to enforce the deal, to make sure that no one sets these tires alight,” Fawcett said. Israel, which has sent extra troops and tanks to the border, also wants an end to incendiary balloon launches, and a guarantee of calm at the fence.

The Great March of Return protests began on March 30 last year after civil society groups in Gaza called for action against the crippling Israeli blockade against the enclave, now in its 12th year.

The first protest fell on Land Day - the annual commemoration of the deaths of six Palestinians in 1976, who protested the confiscation of their land to build Jewish communities.

A UN investigation found that while some demonstrators used violence, the vast majority were unarmed and peaceful. Therefore, Israeli forces may be guilty of war crimes for using excessive force, it said.

Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been trying to balance projecting military strength with seeking de-escalation before the general election on April 9.

“All Israelis should know that if a comprehensive campaign is required, we will enter it strongly and safely, and after we have exhausted all of the other options,” Netanyahu said. Hamas is also under domestic political pressure.

Earlier this month, protesters took to the streets instead of the border over price rises and tax hikes, as Hamas security put the demonstrations down with beatings and arrests.

At the core of those protests were the same feelings of frustration that, for a year now, have brought thousands to the border, week after week.