Protesters come out in force on yet another Friday after backroom Israel-Hamas negotiations sought to keep them from the fence.
GAZA STRIP – Palestinians in the Israeli-besieged Gaza Strip protested on Friday once again, vowing not to let political leaders restrict their right to demonstrate.
Ahead of Friday’s protest, which was the 32nd “Great March of Return” demonstration calling for an end to Israel’s blockade and the right of return for Palestinian refugees, organisers met with Hamas, Islamic Jihad, other Gaza-based Palestinian factions and a delegation from the Egyptian military.
Middle East Eye understands that Israel, in an attempt to quell the protests and stop incendiary balloons and kites from being sent over the Israel-Gaza frontier onto Israeli farmland, promised an easing of certain restrictions if Hamas keeps protesters from the separation barrier, where many demonstrators have previously congregated. However, the protests are organised by the March Committee, who on Thursday agreed to encourage protestors to stay away from the frontier area.
Following the organisers’ meeting with Hamas and Egyptian officials, they released a statement calling on Palestinians to participate in Friday’s protest, and emphasising the importance of keeping the demonstration peaceful in order “not to give the Israeli snipers the chance” to target civilians. Despite this, Israeli forces wounded 32 Palestinians who were partaking in what was dubbed the “Friday of Overthrowing Balfour’s Declaration”. Friday saw the 101st anniversary of the British call for Jewish homeland in historic Palestine.
Since the beginning of the protests on 30 March, 218 Palestinians have been killed, and more than 23,000 other have been wounded, including 5,607 by live ammunition, according to Gaza’s health ministry.