Published: Mon, April 01, 2019
World Media | By Shelia Harmon

Hundreds of Israeli activists protest Gaza blockade outside IDF headquarters

Hundreds of Israeli activists protest Gaza blockade outside IDF headquarters

Israel, which has fought three wars with Hamas, has blockaded the enclave for more than a decade, and Egypt often closes Gaza's only other gateway to the outside world. He noted that reports submitted to the United Nations have emphasized the persistent defiance of worldwide resolutions by Israeli authorities and continued violations of the basic human rights of Palestinians.

On Saturday, Palestinians marked the first anniversary of the beginning of "Great March of Return" with large-scale protest rallies along the Israel-Gaza border which reportedly left at least three people dead.

Despite a decision by Gaza protest organisers not to hold a big demonstration on Friday some Palestinians turned out, although in smaller numbers than usual.

Hamas had pledged to keep the crowds a safe distance from the fence to avoid inflaming the political atmosphere during negotiations of a possible easing of the blockade.

Hamas and the Palestinian factions in Gaza are determined to oblige Israel to commit to the understandings, he said, adding that Israel was facing a "real test".

Khalil al-Hayya, another senior figure in the Islamist movement, said they were expecting to receive a timetable from Israel on Sunday.

The protesters are demanding a right to return to land from which their ancestors fled or were forced to flee during Israel's founding in 1948. "We will continue our marches until all our goals are achieved", he said.

The protests come after a tense week in which Palestinian militants fired rockets at Israel and Israel's air force struck dozens of sites in Gaza.

The army said it was responding with "riot dispersal means and firing in accordance with standard operating procedures".

Almost 200 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire, while an Israeli soldier was killed by a Palestinian sniper last summer.

This dream of breaking Israel's colonial borders has dominated the imaginations of many Palestinians. Israeli troops fired rubber bullets and tear gas at about 150 demonstrators.

On Sunday morning Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, "I have ordered that IDF forces remain fully deployed around the Gaza Strip".

The anniversary event comes days before the Israeli elections and follows a round of heavy cross-border fighting, with Israel striking at will against the blockaded territory.

March 30 also marks "Land Day", an annual commemoration of six Arab citizens of Israel who were killed by Israeli security forces during demonstrations over land confiscations in 1976. We marched on the fence of the Gaza concentration camp marking Land Day and the one-year anniversary of the March. In the evening, the ministry said another 17-year-old died hours after being shot in the chest in a different protest location. They were detained, interrogated, and returned via the Erez crossing into the Gaza Strip.

Waving Palestinian flags, demonstrators chanted slogans for an end to the 12-year-long Israeli blockade on Gaza, according to an Anadolu Agency reporter in the area.

And correspondents reported that Israeli tanks were stationed near the border fence.

The Israeli army, which put the number of protesters at 40,000, accused participants of throwing rocks and setting tires on fire. An Israeli soldier was also killed in the context of the marches.

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