Gaza Protests on Israeli Border to Resume After 3-week Pause

Decision comes days after a 16-year-old boy died by Israeli fire during an independent demonstration staged by dozens of youths

A medic helps a Palestinian demonstrator affected by tear gas during an anti-Israel protest at the Gaza border fence, November 1, 2019.
Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/REUTERS

The organizing committee of the weekly Gaza border protests announced Monday it would resume demonstrations, after three weeks in a row when the March of Return was canceled over tensions at the border with Israel.

In a statement following a meeting between organizers and representatives of Palestinian factions in Gaza, they said the protests were a "legitimate tool in the Palestinian people's struggle."

Haaretz Weekly Episode 51Haaretz

The planned demonstrations along the border fence, titled "The March of Return Continues," will come after three consecutive weeks of relative calm in which Hamas decided to call off protests along the fence due to the "sensitive security situation and the political crisis in Israel."

Senior committee member Talal Abu Zarifa told Haaretz, however, that its decision "has nothing to do with the calm" along the border, but that committee members regularly reassesses their position.

The decision came after a recent flare-up, in which Israel attacked several Hamas targets following two nights of rocket fire from the Strip.

A senior political Hamas official told Haaretz that resumption of the protests won't escalate the situation, but rather aimed as a message by the Gazan leadership, ahead of Hamas Chief Ismail Haniyeh's upcoming visits to Cairo and Moscow.

This is Haniyeh's first visit to Cairo in three years, possibly signaling more serious efforts by Egypt to promote a long-term cease-fire with Israel and intra-Palestinian appeasement.

Last Friday, however, a 16-year-old Palestinian teenager was killed from live Israeli fire east of Khan Yunis while participating in a an independent protest close to Israel's border with the Gaza Strip, which was organized by dozens of young people near the border fence.

According to Gaza's Health Ministry, the boy – identified as Fahd al-Astal –was gravely injured in his stomach and evacuated to a hospital, where his death was pronounced. 

Another Palestinian man died of his wounds Friday after he was wounded from a blast in Beit Lahya in the northern Strip and another was wounded, the ministry said.

The ministry later added that the number of casualties had risen to four, but did not provide details regarding the cause of their injuries and their current condition.