A Palestinian demonstrator uses a sling to hurl back a tear gas canister fired by Israeli forces during a protest marking Land Day and the first anniversary of a surge of border protests, at the Israel-Gaza border fence east of Gaza City March 30, 2019.
(photo credit: MOHAMMED SALEM/REUTERS)
Some 40,000 Palestinians gathered in five main points along the border, hurling stones and explosive devices such as hand grenades along Gaza’s security fence with Israel as thousands rioted to mark Land Day and the one year of the weekly March of Return protests.
Two Palestinians were killed and at least 100 injured in clashes along the security fence.
The Israeli military said they used crowd dispersal methods, including live fire and tear gas, to keep rioters away from the fence.
The IDF has also began to use a loud sound machine and is spraying blue-colored water against rioters.
The Palestinians Ministry of Health reported that a 13-year-old Palestinian was injured in the head with a rubber-coated steel bullet in Khan Younis and that 17-year-old Adham Amaara was killed when he was struck in the face by Israeli live fire near the fence.
Another 100 Palestinians were wounded, 33 of whom were evacuated to hospitals in the coastal enclave, including 10 who were wounded by live fire.
According to the military, while there were more protesters than usual Fridays there was less violence along the fence.
Hamas deployed operatives wearing orange vests at each of the riot sites to make sure that protesters don’t approach the fence. Nevertheless, there were instances of infiltration, including by two eight-year-old children carrying a knife, who were soon after sent back into the Gaza Strip through the Erez crossing.
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh arrived at the main demonstration, east of Gaza City, accompanied by members of the Egyptian delegation who are in the Strip mediating indirect ceasefire arrangement talks between Israel and Hamas.
Hamas spokesperson Fawzi Barhoum said that "today's marches are a message of power from the rightful owners of occupied lands."
"The Palestinian resistance is ready for any scenario," Barhoum continued. "If Israel does not meet our demands, the resistance is ready to respond and change the equation. Today, we are at a crossroads in dealing with Israel, which is now being tested as to whether it will continue with murder and violence."
Israel’s security establishment had been bracing for thousands of Palestinians to riot across the West Bank and Gaza Strip on Saturday to mark Land Day and the one year anniversary of The Great Return March demonstrations along the Gaza front.
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh called on “our Palestinian people in Gaza, the occupied West Bank, and abroad to participate in Land Day (March 30) and take part in the million-man march.”
Land Day commemorates the Israeli government’s expropriation of Arab-owned land in the Galilee on March 30 1976. Six unarmed Arab citizens were killed and hundreds wounded and arrested in the ensuing riots and confrontations with the IDF and police.
Last year on Land Day, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip began The Great Return Marches with thousands of Gazans violently demonstrating along the security fence with Israel demanding an end to the 12-year long blockade of the coastal enclave.
The military said Thursday that troops had completed their operational preparations for the "Land Day" events and that a Division Headquarters, three infantry Brigades and an artillery unit were deployed to enhance the Southern Command.
In addition, the military said that the leave of all combat units that are currently assigned to the Southern Command has been cancelled.
Already on Friday, 21-year-old Muhammad Jihad Jawad Sa'ad was killed by IDF gunfire during night clashes east of Gaza. The IDF said about 200 Palestinians took part in the riots and that an IDF tank attacked an abandoned Hamas outpost in the northern Gaza Strip in response to explosives being thrown at the Gaza fence.
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