Thousands expected at Friday’s Palestinian protest along Gaza-Israel border

Thousands expected at Friday’s Palestinian protest along Gaza-Israel border

East Jerusalem: Thousands of Palestinians are expected to rally at Gaza’s border on Friday despite warnings from Israel that its open-fire rules will not change, raising fears of fresh violence after the the bloodiest day for Gaza’s people in years.
The planned demonstration comes a week after Israeli troops killed 20 Palestinians during a protest at the heavily fortified Gaza border in what was the bloodiest day since a 2014 war.
The protests are in support of refugees, including those in the Palestinian enclave who want to return to their former homes in what is now Israel.
This is supported by the United Nations in a resolution but has never been implemented, while around five million Palestinian refugees and their descendants live in the occupied West Bank, Gaza and countries surrounding Israel.
It is a key issue for Palestinians, many of whom still have the keys of the homes their families were driven from.
Israel says demanding they be allowed to return amounts to calling for the country to cease to exist.
Tens of thousands demonstrated peacefully last Friday. But Israel alleged that small groups of Palestinians approached the border, threw stones and rolled burning tyres towards its troops who responded with live fire and tear gas.
The response generated significant international anger, with critics accusing troops of using disproportionate force.
Questions have mounted over Israel’s use of live fire, with Palestinians saying protesters were shot at while posing no threat to soldiers.
Rights groups have criticised the army’s actions, while the European Union and Guterres have called for an independent investigation.
Human Rights Watch called the deaths “calculated” and illegal.
Israel has remained adamant its actions protect troops from attacks and stop attempts to infiltrate the border.
Protest organisers in Gaza said they were planning to try to stop smaller numbers of demonstrators approaching the fence and hurling stones or rolling burning tyres at Israeli troops.
Asaad abu Sharkh, a spokesman and member of the organising committee of the protests, dubbed the “Great March of Return,” said better attempts will be made on Friday to keep Gaza residents from approaching the fence.
“I think this was a mistake, a mistake of organisation from us because we shouldn’t have let people [go to the border],” he said.
“But at the same time we were not expecting the Israelis to shoot to kill.”
Protests are to continue until mid-May, around the time the United States is due to move its Israeli embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
The controversial pledge by President Donald Trump infuriated Palestinians, who see the annexed eastern sector of Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.