| 07.04,18. 01:50 AM |
Gazans converge on Israel border for 2nd week of demos
Palestinians stage a demonstration within the "Great March of Return" despite Israel's threats near Gaza/Israel border in Khan Yunis, Gaza on April 06, 2018. ( Mustafa Hassona - Anadolu Agency )
Since Friday morning, thousands of Palestinians have converged on the Gaza Strip’s eastern border with Israel to take part in ongoing anti-occupation demonstrations.
At least two Palestinians were killed Friday as a result of Israeli army gunfire from the other side of the border, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.
The martyrs have been identified as Osama Khamis Qudeih, who was shot east of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip; and Magdi Shabat, who was shot on Gaza City’s western outskirts.
At least 250 other Palestinians were injured on Friday, including five who are now in serious condition, the ministry said.
Earlier Friday, another Palestinian succumbed to injuries sustained one week earlier.
“Thaer Mohamed Rabaa, 30, who was injured earlier east of the town of Jabalia in the northern Gaza Strip, died today of his wounds,” ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra said in a statement.
Friday’s deaths bring the total number of Gazans killed by Israeli army gunfire within the past week to 23, according to the ministry.
“Medical teams are now treating the injured in field hospitals set up near the border,” al-Qidra said.
Palestinian activists have dubbed today's rallies “the Friday of Rubber Tires”, with protesters setting hundreds of car tires alight along the border.
A tried-and-true resistance tactic from the Intifada era, burning rubber tires causes heavy black smoke, thus obscuring the view of Israeli snipers deployed in the area.
Spokesmen for Hamas, meanwhile, which has governed the Gaza Strip since 2007, have continued to voice defiance.
“Our people arrayed along the border will resist plans to terminate the Palestinian cause,” Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem told Anadolu Agency.
“We will remain steadfast in our demands for free and dignified lives,” he said. “We remain determined to continue our ‘Great Return March’ and break the years-long siege of Gaza.”
The border rallies, which began last Friday, kicked off a six-week demonstration set to culminate on May 15. That day will mark the 70th anniversary of Israel's establishment -- an event Palestinians refer to as the "Nakba" or "Catastrophe".
Demonstrators demand that Palestinian refugees be granted the “right of return” to their towns and villages in historical Palestine, from which they were driven in 1948 to make way for the new state of Israel.
Israel, for its part, has deployed thousands of troops along the fraught border with Gaza, vowing to use deadly force against anyone who threatens “Israeli security infrastructure”.