Palestinians gather for more protests along Gaza border

Palestinians take part in a protest demanding the right to return to their historic homelands in what is now Israel, at the Israel-Gaza border, east of Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip, on May 4, 2018.
AFP

Gaza City (Palestinian Territories) (AFP) – Hundreds of Palestinians began gathering on the Gaza border Friday for the sixth week of protests in which dozens have already been killed by Israeli fire. 

At a protest camp east of Gaza City, several hundred people prepared for demonstrations expected to gain momentum in the mid-afternoon following the main weekly Muslim prayers.

Organisers said part of Friday’s plans included attempting to fly dozens of kites, some carrying Molotov cocktails, over the border fence.

A 32-year-old man wearing a camouflage hat with his face masked, a traditional keffiyeh scarf around his neck, said they hoped to fly around 50 kites.

“We hope to return back to our land, which is occupied,” said the man who declined to give his name. “I’m not afraid, only of Allah.”

Forty-nine Palestinians have been killed since protests and clashes began along the Gaza border on March 30 and hundreds of others have been wounded from gunfire.

Israel says it only opens fire when necessary to stop infiltrations, damage to the fence and attacks.

– Molotov cocktails –

In central Gaza, dozens were gathering east of the Bureij refugee camp.

Youths met behind a series of bunkers reinforced with sandbags in the area leading up to the border with Israel, while older demonstrators remained further back at protest tents. 

Piles of dozens of tyres were also being prepared to burn later in the day.

A group of Palestinian youths threw stones in the direction of Israeli soldiers, who had taken up position some 50 metres (yards) away on the other side of the fence.

A Guy Fawkes mask strapped to his belt and a Palestinian flag around his neck, Abdullah Issa, 22, said they hoped to send dozens of kites with Molotov cocktails over the fence. 

“We will put Molotov cocktails on the Israeli farms,” Issa said.

“They have no solution for the kites.”

Israeli media have in recent days reported significant damage to farms due to kite-flown Molotov cocktails, though the devices face difficult odds in making it across the fence while still lit.

Israel accuses Hamas, the Islamist movement that runs Gaza and with whom it has fought three wars since 2008, of seeking to use the weekly protests as a cover to carry out violence.

No Israelis have been hurt and Palestinians say protesters are being shot while posing no danger to soldiers.

The military has faced international criticism over its use of live fire, with the United Nations and European Union calling for an independent investigation rejected by Israel. 

Demonstrators are demanding the right to return to their homes seized by Israel in 1948, which Israel argues would effectively spell the end of their country.

The protests are due to continue until mid-May and grow in the run-up to the planned move of the United States embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on May 14. 

The move has deeply angered the Palestinians, who see the Israeli-annexed eastern sector of the city as the capital of their future state.

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