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World View: Gaza Palestinian ‘Land Day’ Demonstrations Lead to Violence with Israel’s Army

EU urges independent probe into Gaza deaths

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  • Gaza Palestinian ‘Land Day’ demonstrations lead to violence with Israel’s army
  • Fears grow of resumption of 2014 Gaza war

Gaza Palestinian ‘Land Day’ demonstrations lead to violence with Israel’s army

Palestinians shout during clashes with Israel troops on Friday (Reuters)
Palestinians shout during clashes with Israel troops on Friday (Reuters)

Thousands of Palestinians on Friday commemorated “Land Day” by marching near Gaza’s border fence with Israel, apparently threatening to break through the fence into Israel. In the resulting confrontation with Israel’s army, in which tear gas was first used to stop the march and then live gunfire, 16 Palestinians were killed. In addition, 1,400 Palestinians were also wounded on Friday, according to Gaza officials, 758 wounded by live fire and the remainder hurt by rubber bullets and tear gas inhalation. No casualties were reported among Israelis.

The original Land Day occurred on March 30, 1976, after Israel’s government announced plans to build new Jewish settlements. This triggered Palestinian marches and demonstrations and, in the ensuing confrontation with Israel’s army, six unarmed Palestinians were killed and dozens injured. The original Land Day is a generational Awakening era climax for the Palestinians and is considered a highly symbolic day, as the day when a new generation of Palestinian youth first united to oppose Israel.

Hamas, the government authority of Gaza – and considered a terrorist organization by the U.S. and the EU – is calling the demonstration the “Great March for Return,” meaning that it is accompanied by demands for “Right of Return,” the demand that Palestinians be permitted to return to the land that they lost in the Arab-Jewish war in 1948.

The violence continued on Saturday, when Palestinian youths hurled stones at Israeli troops, drawing gunfire that wounded 70 people. Reuters and Middle East Eye and AP

Fears grow of resumption of 2014 Gaza war

Hamas has announced plans to continue the demonstrations for six weeks, until May 14, which is “Naqba Day” or “Catastrophe Day,” commemorating the founding, in 1948, of the state of Israel. In addition, May 14 is the day announced by the Trump administration when the official U.S. embassy to Israel will move to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.

Although there was a slight lessening of tensions on Saturday, there are concerns that tensions will grow during the six week period. On Saturday, Israel’s military spokesman Brigadier General Ronen Manelis said that the Palestinian events were “an organized terrorist activity” by Hamas:

If it continues, we shall have no choice but to respond inside the Gaza Strip against terrorist targets which we understand to be behind these events.

However, Palestinian leaders are calling for revenge, and it is feared that this could lead to a resumption of the 2014 Gaza War.

The 67-day 2014 Gaza war was a disaster for Hamas. When the war began, Hamas’s popularity surged to its highest levels, which is similar to what happens to any society when a war begins, but before there are setbacks. Militarily, the war was a disastrous defeat for Hamas, since Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system blocked almost every Hamas missile entering Israel, while Hamas could put up almost no resistance to the Israeli warplanes bombing Gaza. Hamas had to agree to a ceasefire that was, effectively, a return to the status quo ante from before the war, something that it had promised it would not do. At the end of the war, Gaza was in ruins, and the Gaza Palestinians were worse off than when the war was started.

Hamas is not known to have any new technology that would defeat Israel’s Iron Dome system and, without that, they would be unlikely to wish to begin another war and risk humiliation again. However, Iran and Hezbollah are also preparing for war with Israel, and it seems likely that Hamas would delay a war resumption until it could be coordinated with those two entities. BBC and Asharq Al Awsat and Al Jazeera and AFP

Related Articles

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Gaza, Hamas, Land Day, Palestinians, Israel, Naqba Day, Catastrophe Day, Ronen Manelis
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