Monday 20 May 2019

Palestinians stream to Gaza tent camps for mass protests

Twenty-seven Palestinians were killed and hundreds wounded by Israeli fire at rallies in the last two weeks.

By Mohammed Daraghmeh

Palestinians are streaming into tent camps on Gaza’s border with Israel for a third mass protest, amid concerns about more bloodshed after 27 Palestinians were killed and hundreds during rallies in the last two weeks.

Rights groups have branded the Israeli military’s open-fire regulations as unlawful, saying they permit soldiers to use potentially lethal force against unarmed protesters.

Israel has accused Gaza’s Islamic militant Hamas rulers of using the protests as a cover for attacks and says snipers only target the main “instigators”.

Palestinian protesters hurl stones at Israeli troops (Khalil Hamra/AP)

The marches have been organised by Hamas, but large turnouts on two preceding Fridays were also driven by desperation among the territory’s two million residents.

Gaza has endured a border blockade by Israel and Egypt since Hamas overran the territory in 2007, a year after winning Palestinian parliament elections.

The blockade has driven Gaza deeper into poverty, with unemployment approaching 50% and electricity available for less than five hours a day.

The marchers are protesting against the blockade, but are also asserting what they say is a “right of return” of Palestinian refugees and their descendants to what is now Israel.

About 2,000 people gathered on Friday at a tent camp east of Gaza City, one of five set up several hundred meters from the border fence.

Several dozen young men moved closer to the fence, some of them throwing stones. The Gaza Health Ministry said three Palestinians had been wounded by Israeli fire.

Press Association

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