Hundreds of Gaza Palestinians wounded by Israeli fire in two weeks of border violence are severely taxing the coastal strip's hospitals.

Palestinian health officials say nearly 1,300 people have been shot and wounded by Israeli soldiers during the mass border protests, called for by the territory's Hamas rulers.

The casualty figures are at the heart of an intensifying debate over the military's open-fire orders. The Israeli military has disputed the Gaza count of wounded, saying that at most dozens were struck by Israeli fire. But it has not offered supporting evidence and did not respond to requests for comment.

In addition, 33 Palestinians have been killed during this period, including 26 in border demonstrations. Israel says its sharpshooters have been careful, aiming only at "instigators" involved in attempted attacks.