GAZA: Palestinians joined the weekly anti-Israel rallies on Friday, better known as the Marches of Return, and clashed with Israeli soldiers in eastern Gaza Strip close to the border with Israel, eyewitnesses said.
The Palestinian protesters gathered from all over the Gaza Strip and marches towards the border with Israel. They waved Palestinian flags, chanted slogans against Israel, burned tires and threw stones at the soldiers stationed on the border.
The soldiers fired tear gas canisters, rubber bullets and live gunshots at the protesters, said the eyewitnesses.
Paramedics in the area said that dozens were injured and most of them were treated in the field.
The 49th week’s protest in the Gaza Strip, which has been going on since March 30 last year, was organized upon the calls of the Highest Commission of the Marches of Return and Breaking the Israeli Siege.
The protests on Friday were organised one day after a United Nations investigation report accused Israel of committing “war crimes” in the Gaza Strip during the weekly marches of return.
The Israeli army shot and killed 260 Palestinians since last March, including 48 children and six women, and wounded more than 26,000 others, most of them were injured by live gunshots and tear gas, according to Gaza Health Ministry.
Hazem Qassem, Hamas movement’s spokesman in Gaza, said in an emailed press statement that the Palestinians’ insistence to carry on the protests and rallies show that “the people won’t give up their demand of ending the siege.”
The Hamas movement is part of the highest commission of the marches of return. Its activists called on the populations through loudspeakers in the mosques to join the weekly rallies in eastern Gaza Strip.
In 2007, when Hamas movement violently seized control of the coastal enclave and routed the security forces of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Israel imposed a tight blockade on the Gaza Strip.
“On the coming March 30, the Palestinians will mark one year for the Marches of Return,” said Qassem.
He went on saying that “the Palestinian people are creative and smart enough to create new methods and means that boost their determination to achieve their goals of freedom and independence.”