Palestinians mourn boys killed by Israeli forces in Gaza rallies

by Garry Watts April 1, 2019, 1:02
Palestinians mourn boys killed by Israeli forces in Gaza rallies

Tens of thousands of Palestinians took part in rallies in Gaza along the boundary fence with Israel on 30 March, marking Land Day and the first anniverary of the Great March of Return.

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 troops were to hold their fire.

The Israeli military said protesters hurled stones and explosive devices at the fence and set tires ablaze.

Paraic O'Brien reports - and viewers may find some of the images in his report distressing.

Many protesters over the past year have remained far back from the fence and demonstrated peacefully, but others have approached in numbers and clashed with soldiers.

Israeli forces had massed the other side of the fortified frontier, with tensions already high after a rocket attack from Gaza and Israeli air strikes earlier in the week.

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

Posting a photo of four veiled flag-waving female protesters on his Twitter page, Gendelman wrote that Daesh women "also participate today in the Hamas-led riots on the Gaza border" and that it allegedly comes as no surprise "because Hamas is the Gazan branch of ISIS".

Like every week over the past year, unarmed protesters demanded an end to the decade-long siege of Gaza and asserted their right to return to familial lands now in Israel and were met with lethal force by Israeli occupation forces stationed across the fence.

In another sign of the confrontation easing - as Egyptian mediators pushed on for a full ceasefire - Palestinians said Israel would nearly double the breadth of Mediterrean waters where they are permitted to fish on Monday.

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Israel's military says it only opens fire to stop Palestinians crossing into Israeli territory and protect Israeli civilians.

"You arrive in Israel in a tense period, and so I gave the order to leave military forces in full deployment around the Gaza Strip", Netanyahu said during a ceremony at the airport. More than 200 Palestinians have been killed and thousands more injured by Israeli forces.

The week before the anniversary saw a flare-up of cross-border violence after a rocket fired from Gaza wounded seven Israelis north of Tel Aviv on Monday.

"This was not something extraordinary, and much, much, much less than what people were anxious about", retired Israeli Brig.

Before dawn Saturday, a Palestinian was killed by Israeli fire during an overnight protest ahead of the main demonstration, the enclave's health ministry said.

Senior Hamas official Bassem Naim called Saturday's protest "a very important message" that thousands had gathered "peacefully to raise their voice against aggression and the imposed siege on Gaza".

Two million Palestinians live in impoverished Gaza, crammed between Israel, Egypt and the Mediterranean. Netanyahu took heavy criticism this week for what was seen as a soft response to renewed rocket fire out of Gaza.

The Palestinian resistance movement, Hamas, says the huge turnout of people in the Great March of Return demonstrations show that Palestinians will continue to support the resistance.

Jamie McGoldrick, the world body's humanitarian coordinator for the Palestinian territories, in a statement outlined the "staggering" human costs a year of demonstrations has inflicted, especially on Gaza's children. Palestinians have also launched incendiary balloons and kites into Israel.

A masked boy reacts to tear gas fired by Israeli forces.

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