40000 march for justice in Gaza

Minnie Murray
March 31, 2019

"In the coming days we hope to conclude the negotiations and achieve a real breaking of the blockade", Hamas chief in Gaza Yehya Sinwar told Reuters as he arrived at the protest.

Earlier on Saturday, Gaza health officials said Israeli troops shot and killed a 21-year-old Palestinian man near the perimeter fence, hours before the mass rally.

One of the most powerful was in May 2011, when hundreds of Syrian Palestinian refugees marched towards the fence dividing Syria from the Israeli-occupied town of Majdal Shams in the Golan Heights.

The demonstrations, thousands strong, became known as the Great March of Return. He said he planned to show his children the Israeli soldiers and return to safety before the protest started.

The protests were the only way to pressure Israel and the worldwide community into improving living conditions in Gaza, said Jamil Al-Ajrami, 55.

The protests have been ongoing since March 30 a year ago.

Hamas has been mobilising its resources and urging Palestinians to come out in force to five locations along the Israeli security fence on Saturday.

Investigators also stated they have reason to believe that Israeli troops had killed and injured Palestinians "who were neither directly participating in hostilities, nor posing an imminent threat". Palestinians with knowledge of the talks have said that as part of the proposed deal, Gaza protesters were to keep away from the fence Saturday and Israeli snipers were to hold their fire. The report details specific fatalities, but also instances of life-changing injuries, including many amputations.

Israel's use of lethal force has drawn censure from the United Nations and rights groups. "Some of those violations may constitute war crimes or crimes against humanity, and must be immediately investigated by Israel", said Santiago Canton, chairman of the Human Rights Council Commission of Inquiry.

Nine other Gazans were injured in clashes with the Israeli army Friday evening, the ministry said.

Yet after a year of weekly protests during which Israel has exacted a horrifying toll on unarmed civilians, Palestinians in Gaza demonstrated once again on Saturday their determination not to allow the world to forget them and leave them to their fate at Israel's hands.

The army said about 200 Palestinians "rioted during the night along the fence" and that the army used riot dispersal means against them.

After 12 months of bloodshed, Egyptian mediators are working to avoid further confrontation, and to ease tensions by persuading Israel to lift restrictions on the movement of goods and people into and out of the Gaza Strip.

Israeli officials also asserted that the intense violence they meted out against Gaza in the last week in the form of dozens of airstrikes, including one against the office of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, "contributed to the day's relative calm", as The Times of Israel put it. In response, Israel launched a wave of airstrikes and ramped up its forces at the border.

Hamas, meanwhile, faces growing unrest in Gaza as a result of worsening conditions after more than a decade of Israeli and Egyptian border closures. The Israeli military had no immediate comment.

With Israeli elections due for April 9th, and much of the campaign discourse centered on the which candidate can best "provide security for Israelis", it would be in Netanyahu's best interest to maintain quiet in Gaza and avoid an escalation in violence that could spiral out of his control.

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