Posts Tagged ‘March of Return’

Gaza fishermen come under Israeli fire — Palestinian media

January 5, 2019

IDF looking into report, as well as claim that farmers east of Khan Younis were fired upon; no reported casualties

Illustrative: Palestinian fishermen, as seen in boats at the port of Gaza City, May 13, 2015 (Aaed  Tayeh/Flash90)

Illustrative: Palestinian fishermen, as seen in boats at the port of Gaza City, May 13, 2015 (Aaed Tayeh/Flash90)

Palestinian fishing boats were fired upon by Israeli army forces in the southern Gaza Strip Saturday morning, Palestinian media reported.

There were also reports of Palestinian farmers east of Khan Younis, in the central Strip, coming under fire.

An Israeli military spokesman said he was looking into the reports.

There were no reports of casualties in either incident.

The IDF often fires warning shots at Gaza boats that sail beyond permitted fishing zones. Israel maintains a naval blockade of the Gaza Strip, saying it is necessary to prevent terror groups from rearming and launching attacks.

On Friday some 10,000 Palestinians took part in violent protests along the Gaza border, burning tires and hurling rocks and explosive devices at IDF soldiers.

The army said it foiled two attempts to breach the border fence and responded to the demonstrators with tear gas and live fire in accordance with rules of engagement.

Palestinian protesters try to climb the border fence with Israel during clashes following a demonstration along the border east of Gaza City on January 4, 2019. (Said Khatib/AFP)

Photos showed several youths trying to climb over the fence.

The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza said 15 protesters were injured by live fire in clashes with Israeli security forces along the border. It also said five medics were hurt, all hit by gas canisters.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks with Honduras President Juan Orlando Hernandez during a meeting in Brasilia, Brazil, January 1, 2019.


Friday’s protests were held at various locations along the border under the banner of Hamas’s ongoing “March of Return” demonstrations.

Since March, Palestinians have been holding weekly “March of Return” protests on the border, which Israel has accused Gaza’s Hamas rulers of using to carry out attacks on troops and attempt to breach the security fence. Hamas, an Islamist terror group, seeks to destroy Israel.

Image result for Hamas leaders, gaza, Photos
Hamas’s leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, center, chants slogans with protesters — File Photo

Israel has demanded an end to the violent demonstrations along the border in any ceasefire agreement.


Gazans defy violent response to their attempts to end Israeli blockade

December 9, 2018

For eight months in a row, tens of thousands of Palestinians have been taking part in weekly protests along the Gaza Strip’s border with Israel and sustaining serious injuries in lopsided confrontations with Israeli army soldiers. Doctors Without Borders now says the extremely large number of people in need of treatment for bullet wounds has overwhelmed the territory’s healthcare system.

The international humanitarian organization said this week that most of the 3,000 people it has treated since March were shot in the legs, with about a quarter suffering from infections that, if left untreated, could lead to lifelong disabilities or limb amputations.

Palestinian factions have not shied away from using financial incentives to ensure wide participation in the protests. (AFP)

For 28-year-old Mohammed Yassin, the casualties are not mere numbers. As someone who was shot in the arm while taking part in protests in eastern Gaza’s Al-Zaytoun, a neighbourhood adjoining the security fence separating the Hamas- ruled territory from Israel, he stands to bene t personally if medical-aid groups tend to those local hospitals cannot adequately treat.

On a recent morning, Yassin stood in a queue outside a medical centre in Gaza operated by an international humanitarian organization waiting for his turn to consult doctors. He said he feared his arm may have to be amputated due to the lack of specialised treatment in the territory, which has been continuously under an Israeli blockade since 2007 when Hamas seized control after a violent power struggle with Fatah.

The Great March of Return movement, as the weekly protests are called, was born when tens of thousands of Palestinians in Gaza began confronting Israeli soldiers on March 30, called Land Day by Palestinians, which coincided with the annual commemoration of the founding of the state of Israel.

Hamas's leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, center, chants slogans with protesters during his visit to the Gaza Strip's border with Israel, April 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

Hamas’s leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, center, chants slogans with protesters during his visit to the Gaza Strip’s border with Israel, April 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

Since that day, Palestinians from across the social spectrum, living in poverty and isolation in the besieged coastal enclave, have been marching after prayers every Friday towards the heavily fortied border, braving the Israeli army’s live rounds, rubber-coated metal bullets and tear-gas salvos. Along the way, women and children started joining the young men, who are often armed with slings and stones.

Israel has responded with an iron fist, but the confrontations have continued unabated. In November, Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, agreed to a transfer of Qatari cash totalling $15 million into Gaza as part of a deal apparently aimed at persuading Hamas to end the protests in exchange for Israel easing its blockade.

The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza has given warning time and again of its inability to cope with the high number of casualties owing to a shortage of medicine and supplies.

A Palestinian protester hurls stones during a protest at Gaza Strip’s border with Israel, east of Gaza City, on September 7, 2018. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

The latest figures provided by the ministry put the total number of Palestinian deaths since March 30 at more than 200, including 37 children, and the number of wounded at 22,267. Of the latter, 46.3 percent have suffered injuries caused by live rounds red by Israel.

Yassin, the man with the injured arm, says his condition could improve with treatment abroad, but he is unable to travel through the Rafah crossing, the only connection for Gaza’s two million inhabitants to the outside world via Egypt. He told Arab News he rejected an opportunity for amputation at the local facility of the international organization where he is currently being treated.

Looking to the future, Yassin hopes to save his injured arm, take care of his family and live a full life. But that will take a great deal of effort and determination given that he has lost his job, which earned him about 30 shekels ($8) a day and was enabling him and his wife to raise a family of four little children.

Still, Yassin is fortunate compared with hundreds of other young men, one of them being Mohammed Al-Issawi. The 23-year-old has been injured four times in course of the border protests: shot in various places on his body – once in the leg while taking part in protests east of Al-Bureij refugee camp, in central Gaza – and struck by a tear-gas canister.

Even so, Al-Issawi, who shares his home with 13 other family members, says he has no regrets about taking part in the protests that have taken such a high toll on his health. “God has not written martyrdom for me yet,” he told Arab News, his words reflecting resilience and resignation in equal measure. Protest movements in Palestine usually start o as spontaneous uprisings but tend to get co-opted by political factions with the passage of time. For what is presumably a mix of self-interest and cost control, the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority, dominated by the secular Fatah, has ruled that the casualties of the Great March clashes will not come under the purview of a body called Institution of the Martyrs and the Wounded, making their families ineligible for monthly cash assistance.

However, other Palestinian factions have not shied away from using financial incentives to ensure wide participation in the protests. For instance, Hamas, Fatah’s Islamist rival, has been giving $500 to the family of each victim of Israeli shooting and $200 to each of the wounded. But Al-Issawi, who is unemployed, dismisses the idea that his participation in the protests is motivated by pecuniary advantage. “I will wait for my treatment to be completed so that I can go back to join my friends at the border until the siege is broken,” he told Arab News.

Members of the Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades, Hamass armed wing, marking Al-Quds Day in the Nuseirat refugee camp, in the central Gaza Strip on Friday, June 23, 2017. (AP/Adel Hana)

Members of the Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’s armed wing, marking Al-Quds Day in the Nuseirat refugee camp, in the central Gaza Strip on Friday, June 23, 2017. (AP/Adel Hana)


Al-Issawi’s denial is echoed by Youssef Barakat, who has injuries in his left leg. The 23-year-old Palestinian, who is single and lives with his family of 10, says he has not received any compensation since he suffered a gunshot wound while taking part in the Nakba Day demonstrations of May 14 in an area east of Gaza’s Al-Bureij refugee camp.

“We see no option of getting rid of the siege and the impoverishment,” Barakat says stoically, “other than by continuing to confront the enemy.” But more patients with bullet wounds would spell trouble for Gaza’s authorities when the existing caseload of injuries and trauma is already far larger than its network of hospitals, eld medical units and primary health-carecentres can handle. Suheir Zaqout, ICRC spokesperson in Gaza, told Arab News that although doctors in Gaza try their best to save lives and minimise loss of limbs, the waiting list of people seeking treatment for serious injuries keeps getting longer.

For his part, Munir Al-Bursh, who heads the Gaza health ministry’s pharmacy department, said gunshot injuries caused by Israeli snipers are complicated because of their severity. The snipers have killed about 170 people and wounded thousands more, according to reports. The survivors require a large number of surgeries, which tax the skills of even the best medical specialists in the territory, Al-Bursh told Arab News.

The low-intensity border conflict has left many residents of Gaza stuck between despair and hope. Many dream of leaving Gaza and starting life anew somewhere else. At age 24, Mahmoud Quzat has been left with permanent disability since being struck in his right leg by live rounds during protests in Shajaiya, a neighbourhood east of Gaza City, on August 3. “If I had the money, I would migrate to find a secure and stable place,” he told Arab News.

Anxiety and fear of being condemned to a life of unending tension or being reduced to just a statistic in a struggle that has de ed a lasting solution, that, too, in a region rife with brutal wars and humanitarian crises, has yet to dampen Palestinians’ determination to end the Israeli blockade.

Even as he contemplates a better future that looks elusive to most Gazans, Quzat expresses no remorse about his continued involvement in the weekly protests near the border fence. “What do we have to lose?” he says philosophically. “We have already lost half of our lives to 12 years of siege and division.”

Arab News


Mohammad Habali, 22, was shot after Israeli forces carried out an overnight raid. (File/AP/Majdi Mohammed)

Hezbollah: “We will respond to any attack from Israel”

November 10, 2018

“I salute the families of the martyrs,” Nasrallah said. “Thanks to martyrs’ sacrifices, the resistance has achieved all its victories

 NOVEMBER 10, 2018 17:16

Image result for Hassan Nasrallah, pictures

Iran-Hezbollah terror

Iran’s sponsorship of Hezbollah includes $800 million in annual financial support, the supply of 130,000 rockets and missiles. (photo credit: REUTERS)


Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah condemned normalization with Israel in a televised address Saturday, The Jerusalem Post’s sister publication Maariv reported.

The condemnation comes after Mohammad al-Emadi, chairman of the Qatari Committee for the Reconstruction of the Gaza Strip, visited Gaza, transferring $15 million to the Palestinian coastal enclave in coordination with Israel.

“I salute the families of the martyrs,” Nasrallah said. “Thanks to martyrs’ sacrifices, the resistance has achieved all its victories. The blood of our martyrs has protected our land and Hezbollah’s rocket power.”

“The source of our strength are our missiles because the Lebanese army is not allowed to acquire advanced missiles,” Nasrallah said.

“Netanyahu believes that the key [to the conflict] is power and not the occupation,” he continued. “His problem, though, is that we have the power. We will respond to any Israeli strike on Lebanon and will not accept any aggression by the enemy against our land.”

“We condemn any form of normalization with the Zionist entity,” Nasrallah said. “I say to the Palestinian people, do not lose hope over the Arab states’ normalization with Israel; what before went on behind the scenes now is taking place publicly. The current normalization has put an end to Arab hypocrisy, and removed the mask from the swindlers and hypocrites.

“Those who march and fall in Gaza’s Marches of Return give us hope because they resist the pressures exerted on them,” he added. “If the Syrian people and the government had not resisted the pressure, we would see Netanyahu in Damascus.”

Nasrallah also attacked the international community in the aftermath of the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi: “While they complain about the murder, they ignore the crimes Saudi Arabia is committing in Yemen.”


Hamas leader: ‘On our way’ to ending Israel blockade

August 21, 2018

Hamas leader Ismail Haniya said Tuesday that an end to Israel’s more than decade-long blockade of Gaza was “around the corner”, as talk of a possible truce deal intensifies.

Indirect negotiations between Gaza’s Hamas rulers and Israel brokered by Egyptian and UN officials have reportedly included discussion on easing the blockade, but by no means a complete lifting of it.

Speaking to thousands of Palestinians during prayers for the Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday, Haniya did not directly address the possiblity of a truce, mooted in Israeli and Palestinian media for weeks.

© AFP | The leader of Gaza’s ruling Hamas movement, Ismail Haniya (Haniyeh), tells thouands of Muslim worshippers an end to Israel’s more than decade-long blockade is “around the corner”, as talk of a possible truce deal intensifes

“Thanks to these marches and resistance, we are just around the corner from closing the page on this unjust blockade,” he said, referring to months of protests along the Gaza-Israel border, some of which have drawn a deadly response from the Israeli army.

He seemed to refer to Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas’s concerns over a truce that does not include his Palestinian Authority, based in the occupied West Bank.

Abbas’s Fatah and Hamas have been deeply divided for more than a decade.

Haniya said any agreement would come “with a national consensus and an Arab safety net in order to establish the necessary safeguards to implement what is agreed upon”.

“We are on our way to ending this unjust blockade of Gaza,” he said.

Two Palestinians were shot dead during border protests on Friday, bringing to 171 the number killed by Israeli fire in the Gaza Strip since demonstrations began on March 30.

One Israeli soldier has been killed by a Palestinian sniper.

Israel accuses Hamas of being behind the protests and encouraging Gazans to attempt to breach the heavily guarded border fence.

UN envoy Nickolay Mladenov and Egyptian officials have been seeking to broker a long-term truce between Israel and Hamas, which have fought three wars since 2008.

Israeli media have speculated it could involve an easing of Israel’s crippling blockade of Gaza in exchange for calm on the border and the return of the bodies of two soldiers killed in 2014.

Israel is also seeking the return of two Israeli citizens believed held by Hamas.

The Gaza border has been notably calmer in recent days as speculation over the indirect negotiations has intensified.



Hamas Leader Ismail Haniyeh: “Gaza is on the way to ending the blockade”

August 21, 2018

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh made a speech on Eid al-Adha and spoke of the situation in the Gaza Strip. “There will be no political price for humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip.”


AUGUST 21, 2018 09:27

Palestinian Hamas Chief Ismail Haniyeh gives a speech after prayers on the first day of Eid al-Adha festival, in Gaza City August 21, 2018. (photo credit: IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA / REUTERS)

Ismail Haniyeh said Tuesday, “Gaza is on the way to ending the blockade thanks to your resilient stance. There will be no political price for humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip.”

Haniyeh, leader of the Hamas movement, gave a speech to the citizens of Gaza on Tuesday morning in celebration of Eid al-Adha.

The Hamas leader clarified, “any humanitarian aid will be in national accordance with an Arab security net to offer suitable warranty, but we emphasize that opposition is the best warranty there is.”

Haniyeh further stated, “Our holiday brings good tidings despite the [malicious] plots. We are witness to the death of the harshest attack on us – the Deal of the Century, which no one can pass.”

Khalil al-Hayya, deputy Hamas leader, said on Friday during his visit to Egypt, “the Palestinian factors have reached an agreement about the reconciliation, the end of the blockade and the calm with Israel.”

“There are international projects that will be implemented in Gaza soon, and we are interested in reconciliation based on partnership,” added al-Hayya. He included, “we are at the home stretch of the Egyptian, Qatari and international efforts to achieve calm and are doing everything to ease [the conditions of] the blockade. However, the March of Return continues until the blockade is lifted.”

Translated by Hadas Labrisch

Israeli troops come under fire along Gaza border; no injuries

August 20, 2018

Gunman said to fire upon patrol from close range; soldiers return fire, apparently killing him; army looking into assailant’s identity

Israeli soldiers guard on the border with the Gaza Strip on May 29, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Israeli soldiers guard on the border with the Gaza Strip on May 29, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

An IDF patrol came under fire by a Palestinian gunman in the northern Gaza Strip on Monday morning, the army said.

The troops returned fire and hit the gunman.

There were no injuries among the Israeli soldiers, according to the military.

Army sources told the Ynet news site the gunman opened fire at the soldiers from close range, from a distance of 10-20 meters (30-60 feet) from the border fence. Soldiers fired back and hit the gunman, apparently killing him. His body lay near the fence on the Gazan side.

The military was checking his identity, and whether he was a member of the Hamas terror group.

On July 20, an IDF soldier, Staff Sgt. Aviv Levi, was killed by a Gaza sniper. A second sniper attack days later moderately wounded another Israeli soldier.

Reports have proliferated in recent days that a long-term ceasefire deal between Israel and Hamas in Gaza is imminent, after months of on-again, off-again violence. A senior Hamas official said over the weekend that negotiations for such an accord were in “the final stretch.”

The past months have seen repeated rounds of intense violence between Israel and Hamas, along with weekly border protests at the Gaza border that have regularly included rioting, attacks on Israeli troops and attempts to infiltrate and sabotage the border fence.

A picture taken on August 17, 2018 shows tear gas canisters thrown by Israeli forces at Palestinian protesters during a demonstration along the border of the Gaza Strip, east of Gaza City (AFP PHOTO / MAHMUD HAMS)

Israeli communities, agricultural land, and parks on the Gaza periphery have suffered from hundreds of fires as a result of incendiary kites and balloons flown over the border from Gaza. Over 7,000 acres of land have been burned, causing millions of shekels in damages, according to Israeli officials.

While no rockets have been launched at Israel in over a week as talks have progressed, residents of the coastal enclave have continued to release incendiary balloons at bordering Israeli towns nearly every day.

On Friday, thousands of Gazans demonstrated along the Israeli border near the Erez Crossing in weekly Hamas-backed “March of Return” demonstrations. Hamas leaders had urged the public to participate in Friday’s protests. Rioters hurled rocks, improvised bombs and Molotov cocktails at soldiers and burned tires to create a smokescreen. Others launched incendiary balloons toward Israel.

The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza reported on Friday that two men had been killed and around 250 injured, of which at least 25 were said hit by live fire.

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman on Sunday said the government’s “endgame” for Gaza was the toppling of its Hamas rulers to allow the Palestinian residents of the coastal enclave to enjoy the economic benefits of peace with Israel.


Israel Closes Gaza Crossing Following Clashes at Border Protests

August 19, 2018
The Erez crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip.
The Erez crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip. MAHMUD HAMS/AFP

Israel announced Sunday that it has closed the Erez crossing for movement, with the exception of pressing humanitarian cases, due to the ongoing clashes at the border with Gaza that carried on over the weekend.

The Erez crossing, situated along the northern part of the Strip, is used for the movement of people between the Strip and Israel.

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman stated that he made the decision to close the crossing after a situation assessment he made on Saturday due to ‘violent events at the border last Friday.’

On Friday afternoon, Gaza’s Health Ministry said that two Palestinians died and hundreds more were injured in clashes with the Israeli military amid a protest. The Israeli military stated that several Palestinians attempted to breach the border fence and that thousands disrupted order in the area, prompting forces on the ground to use riot dispersal means as well as live fire to disperse the demonstrators.

Last week, Israel reopened the Kerem Shalom crossing, the commercial crossing through which fuel, gas and other provisions are passed into the coastal enclave.

The crossing had been closed due to the hostilities that erupted between Israel and the Palestinians after several weeks throughout which Israel’s south was targeted by incessant rocket fire.

Also last week, Israel and Hamas reached a cease-fire agreement that went into effect on Wednesday.

Israeli ministers discussed Wednesday the details of the agreement, brokered by the United Nations and Egypt, in a special meeting on the situation in Gaza.

The understandings are based on the principles that were agreed upon by the parties at the end of the 2014 Operation Protective Edge. These include, in the first stage, lifting restrictions at the Kerem Shalom commercial crossing and on the fishing area in Gaza, in addition to rehabilitation of Gaza infrastructure, in return for a cessation of attacks from both sides.

The agreement was approved in principle by the security cabinet minister on Sunday during a cabinet discussion, though not by vote. The only ones who objected, as publicly announced, were  Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked.

Lieberman did not object but supported the position of the defense establishment in favor of the agreement. On Wednesday, the agreement entered into force, the details were again presented and the security cabinet received an update on the progress.



Israel closes people crossing with Gaza — After firebombs and IEDs hurled at the border fence, Israel says

August 19, 2018


Israel closed its only crossing for people with the Gaza Strip on Sunday except for humanitarian cases over border incidents that saw protests and clashes at the weekend, an Israeli official said.

A spokeswoman for the Israeli defence ministry unit that oversees the passage confirmed that the Erez crossing had been closed.

Border protests and clashes on Friday left two Palestinians dead by Israeli gunfire.

Israel’s army said firebombs and IEDs were also hurled at the border fence, while a number of Palestinians briefly crossed into Israeli territory.

Image result for Erez crossing, photos

The closure and border incidents occurred despite attempts by Egypt and UN officials to reach a long-term truce between Israel and Hamas, the Islamist movement that runs the blockaded Gaza Strip.

The spokeswoman for the defence ministry unit, known as COGAT, did not say how long the crossing would be closed.

The Palestinian Authority civilian affairs office in Gaza also confirmed the closure except for medical cases and Palestinians seeking to cross back into the enclave.

Israel has enforced an air, land and sea blockade on the Gaza Strip for more than a decade, but grants permission to a limited number of people to cross for various reasons.

Israel had just last week reopened its only goods crossing with Gaza after closing it to most deliveries for more than a month over border tensions.

Protests and clashes began on the Gaza border on March 30 and have continued at varying levels since then.

At least 171 Gazans have been killed by Israeli fire during that time. One Israeli soldier was shot dead by a Palestinian sniper in July.

There have also been several severe military flare-ups, including three since July.

UN officials and Egypt have been seeking to secure a long-term truce between Hamas and Israel to allow for humanitarian issues in the impoverished enclave of two million people to be addressed.

Israel is demanding calm and a return of the remains of two soldiers Hamas is believed to be holding.

Israel and Hamas have fought three wars since 2008.



Peace Between Palestinians and the Jews? Abbas calls for Intensifying “Popular Resistance” Against Israel

August 18, 2018

The Palestinians, he said, should not “underestimate the importance of popular resistance.”

 AUGUST 18, 2018 18:51

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a news conference following the extraord

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a news conference following the extraordinary meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Istanbul, Turkey. (photo credit: REUTERS/OSMAN ORSAL)


Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday called on Palestinians to “keep the ground aflame with popular resistance” against Israel. The Palestinians, he said, should not “underestimate the importance of popular resistance.”
In closing remarks in Ramallah to the PLO Central Council, a key decision-making body, Abbas called on Palestinians to protest at Khan al-Ahmar, the Bedouin shantytown located east of Ma’aleh Adumim which is slated for demolition.
He claimed the decision to demolish Khan al-Ahmar and evict its 180 residents was part of an Israeli plan to divide the West Bank.
Abbas repeated his demand that Hamas hand full control over the Gaza Strip to the Ramallah-based PA government. Otherwise, he said, Hamas should assume full responsibility over the coastal enclave.
“There should be one state, one system, one law and one security force in the Gaza Strip,” Abbas added. “If they [Hamas] don’t want to hand the responsibilities over to the Palestinian Authority, then they should assume their responsibilities.”
Abbas said that any funds earmarked for the Gaza Strip should be channeled only through the PA government.
The PLO council, which concluded a three-day conference, reaffirmed Palestinian opposition to US President Donald Trump’s yet-to-be-announced plan for peace in the Middle East and vowed to pursue efforts to thwart it.
“The US administration is a partner of the Israeli occupation government,” the council alleged. “It is part of the problem, and not part of the solution.”
The Palestinians will continue with their policy of suspending political relations with the US administration until it backtracks on its “illegal decisions” regarding Jerusalem, refugees and settlements, the council said in its statement.
It was referring to Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, cut US funds to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, and what Palestinians perceive as US support for settlements.
The PLO delegates affirmed their commitment to the idea of holding an international conference for peace in the Middle East under international sponsorship, including the five permanent members of the UN Security Council.
With regards to Palestinian-Israeli relations, the PLO council said, “The relationship of our people with the Israeli government is based on a conflict between our people and our state, which is under occupation, and the force of occupation. Our direct goal is the independence of the State of Palestine. This requires moving from the phase of self-rule to the phase of statehood.”
The council approved previous decisions taken by other Palestinian institutions, including the Palestinian National Council, to carry out a “comprehensive definition of political, economic, and security ties” with Israel, “revoke recognition of Israel until it recognizes the Palestinian state on the 1967 borders, and suspend all forms of security coordination [with Israel].”
The PLO council also decided to form a “higher committee” to “safeguard” UNRWA and pursue efforts to provide the needed funds so that the UN agency would be able to assume its responsibilities toward Palestinian refugees.
Referring to current efforts to achieve a long-term truce between Israel and the Palestinian terror groups in the Gaza Strip, the council said it was categorically opposed to “suspicious projects aimed at separating the Gaza Strip from the West Bank and the eternal capital of Palestine, Jerusalem.”
The PLO council claimed the Egyptian and UN-sponsored efforts to achieve a truce in return for humanitarian and economic aid to the Gaza Strip were part of Trump’s unrevealed peace plan.
“The truce with the Israeli occupation is the national responsibility of the PLO, which is the sole, legitimate representative of the Palestinian people,” the council said. “It is not a factional issue.”
The PLO council warned that the talk about humanitarian and economic projects in the Gaza Strip was aimed at “destroying the Palestinian national project and liquidating the Palestinian cause.” It stressed there will be “no state in the Gaza Strip, and no state without the Gaza Strip.”
The council called on the Palestinian Authority government to immediately cancel all measures it had taken with regard to salaries and financial payments to civil servants in the Gaza Strip. It also praised the “heroic” Hamas-sponsored protests along the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel, which are being held in the context of the so-called “March of Return.”
The PLO council called on Palestinians to step up and expand the “popular resistance” against Israel and support the anti-Israel BDS movement.

Thousands protest near Gaza border amid reports of imminent truce

August 17, 2018

At least 7 said injured in violent clashes with IDF; incendiary balloon sparks fire near kibbutz; defense officials say day’s events will be test of Hamas’s intent to ensure calm

Illustrative: Israeli soldiers in defensive positions on an embankment near the Gaza border during a violent Palestinian protest, July 27, 2018 (Courtesy IDF)

Illustrative: Israeli soldiers in defensive positions on an embankment near the Gaza border during a violent Palestinian protest, July 27, 2018 (Courtesy IDF)

Despite talk of an imminent truce in the Gaza Strip, thousands of Palestinian protesters once again gathered near the territory’s border with Israel Friday for the weekly Hamas-backed ‘March of Return’ demonstrations, with some rioters attacking Israeli soldiers along the fence.

Around 3,000 people were reported to be participating in the rallies at several points along the border with Israel. Some were hurling rocks at soldiers and burning tires to create a smokescreen. Others launched balloons carrying pictures of so-called “martyrs” who had been killed by Israel. The IDF said it fired at three people who attempted to sabotage the security fence.

Palestinian media reported at least 7 people wounded by IDF fire.

Meanwhile an incendiary balloon launched from the Strip sparked a fire near Kibbutz Be’eri. Firefighters were at the scene.

Sources in the Defense Ministry said the events of the day would be a test of Hamas’s willingness or ability to enforce calm as part of a deal.

An unconfirmed Lebanese television report Thursday said the truce was set to last for a year and see the establishment of a cargo shipping connection between Gaza and Cyprus.

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said he would remain in the Kirya military base in Tel Aviv to receive constant updates about what was happening along the border.

A female Palestinian protester holds a slingshot during a demonstration at the Israel-Gaza border, east of Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on August 10, 2018. (AFP/Said Khatib)

The army stressed that its preparations ahead of Friday’s demonstrations has been no different than in the previous four months.

Over the past four months the “March of Return” protests have led to deadly clashes which saw Israeli security forces facing gunfire, grenades, Molotov cocktails, and efforts — sometimes successful — to damage or cross the border fence.

At least 160 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since the weekly protests began, a Hamas ministry says. Hamas has acknowledged that dozens of those killed were its members.

One Israeli soldier was shot dead by a Palestinian sniper.

In addition to the border clashes, southern Israel has experienced hundreds of fires as a result of incendiary kites and balloons flown over the border from Gaza. Over 7,000 acres of land have been burned, causing millions of shekels in damages, according to Israeli officials.

Adam Rasgon contributed to this report.