Abril 25, 2018

Thousands of Gazans march near Israel border

30 Marcha 2018, 03:50 | Crisanna Felipe

Hamas vows peaceful Gaza march as Israel says will defend itself

The Iron Dome

Tents for media, portable loos, electricity cables and water pipes, and shaded areas for crowds have been installed east of Khan Younis, Rafah and al-Breej near the border fence that separates Israel from Gaza.

With feelings raw on both sides, however, Hamas urged protesters to adhere to the "peaceful nature" of the march. Israel has never needed excuses to violently suppress Palestinian protests, which makes this a priori justification of violence all the more worrying. "We were more than kilometer away from the border".

Israel, Hamas and its allies are observing a ceasefire since the 2014 war, the third in the enclave in six years.

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum praised the turnout.

By declaring Friday's protest action to be violent before it even occurs, the army's own violent response becomes something of a foregone conclusion.

Organisers say the camps will remain in place until May 15 when Palestinians commemorate the Nakba, or "catastrophe", when more than 700,000 Palestinians fled their land or were expelled during the war that led to the creation of Israel in 1948.

The military said it views with "great severity any breach of Israeli sovereignty or damage to the security fence".

Last Saturday, four masked Palestinian men cut through the southern Gaza security fence, ran into Israeli territory and attempted to set fire to engineering equipment used to build underground barriers against Gaza terror tunnels. UNRWA has offered medical facilities to any Palestinian who may be injured during the weeks of protest.

Khaled al-Batsh, part of the committee planning the protest, said tents would be located 500 metres (yards) from the border, just outside the buffer zone between Gaza and Israel. By noon, thousands had arrived at the encampments. He said he hopes the protest "will bring a breakthrough, an improvement, to our life in Gaza".

An Egyptian-led attempt to broker a reconciliation deal between Hamas and Abbas' Fatah movement took a major downturn earlier this month after a bombing targetted a convoy carrying Abbas' prime minister and security chief shortly after they entered Gaza.

The ministry identified the dead man as Omar Samour, 27.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry said the protest was a "deliberate attempt to provoke a confrontation with Israel" and that "responsibility for any clashes lies exclusively with Hamas and other participating Palestinian organisations".

"In my view Hamas will set up tents near the border, but will not allow the protesters to reach the border itself".

"In the end, we believe it is our right to return to our land in accordance with [UN General Assembly] Resolution 194".

"Every Good Friday, my grandmother would sit in her ornately carved wooden chair and sing "Stabat Mater Dolorosa" and we would all sit on the floor around her feet and listen, crying as the words moved us so much", my mother recalls the Easters of her childhood growing up in Jerusalem.

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