Over a hundred teenagers from Israeli communities along the Gaza border plan to launch a five-day march to Jerusalem on Sunday in protest against the security situation in the south and to accuse the government of abandoning their safety.
Residents have debated several possible initiatives to raise public awareness in the country about their security issues, since a recent escalation in rocket fire and firebomb attacks on their communities.
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Southern residents have already held protests blocking traffic and shouting slogans condemning government policy. High school students will now be joining them.
One of the organizers of the march, Alon Levi, 17, said: "We're youth from the [Gaza] border communities who've decided we're standing up and doing something. We want to come and make our voices heard, because we want change. [We] want our little brothers to be able to sleep peacefullyand that the situation will be better."
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“We are launching this protest so that people will see us. We feel as though we’re invisible to Israeli society and we want to raise awareness of the situation for us which hasn’t been calm in years,” said Nevo Dan, 17, of Moshav Yad Natan near Kiryat Gat.
Dan said the point of their protests is “for people to understand that routine life here isn’t a normative situation. We also want people to understand it’s possible to change things and find a solution.”
In addition to the march, students from the Eshkol Regional Council held their own demonstration Sunday morning. Participants standing at the council juncture held up protest signs and called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to "Wake up, the entire south is burning."
Another group of residents briefly blocked the Kerem Shalon border crossing, through which goods to Gaza are transferred.
Sunday’s march began from the Sapir College in Sderot and wind up in Jerusalem, on Thursday. Moshavim along the way will host the teens overnight.
Organizers said more than 150 high school pupils from the Ashkelon Coast, Eshkol, Lachish and Sha’ar Hanegev regions are expected to participate. They anticipate that other teens will join their march once it gets on its way.
The region had been calm for a while after Operation Protective Edge in 2014 but since the protests along the border fence were launched in March, residents complain of burning tires sending up huge plumes of smoke and flaming kites that have torched some 7,400 acres of farmland.
On Saturday, the Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar reported that an emerging agreement between Israel and Hamas aimed at easing violence on the Gaza border will last until the end of 2018.
The paper published a draft agreement said to be an Israel-Hamas deal that will limit protest activities near the border and restrict violence.
According to clauses in the draft agreement, Egypt will pressure Israel to lift 70 percent of the blockade on Gaza and expand the fishing zone to 14 nautical miles; 5,000 Gazan workers under 40 will be allowed to enter Israel for employment; and Egypt will open the Rafah border crossing.