What's Next for Palestinian Protests in Gaza: Burning Israeli Flags Near Border Fence

Organizers say each weekend protest will be tied to a specific action with the goal of drawing international attention

Protesters in Gaza shout in front of burning tires and heavy smoke, April 6, 2018
Adel Hana

The next protests near the border fence with Gaza, scheduled for this coming Friday, will see demonstrators burning Israeli flags, organizers said Sunday.

The success of the latest protests on Friday, dubbed the "Friday of Tires" because of widespread tire-burning, led organizers to decide on taking specific actions each weekend in order to draw international attention, they added. Large Israeli flags, and possibly also American flags, will be prepared for burning near the fence on the coming Friday, according to the organizers.

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Reports from the Gaza Strip also said incendiary devices were being prepared, but the organizers say they reject their use, emphasizing that the protests are non-violent and that firebombs are not in the spirit of the protests. “Israel is trying in every way possible to tie the march to Hamas and it would very convenient for it if the activities cross the line into violence by the Palestinians, so we will not allow this,” one of the organizers told Haaretz.

Israeli security forces seen as smoke from burning tires billows over the Gaza border fence on April 6, 2018
Eliyahu Hershkovitz

Dr. Mustafa Barghouti, a member of the Palestinian Liberation Organization's executive committee and one of the protest leaders, said over the weekend that the organizers are being pressured to stop the protests by regional and international figures as well as by Israel, but that it is doubtful authorities will agree.

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Senior Palestinian figures in Ramallah told Haaretz that Egypt is following the events closely and that the protests were discussed in recent meetings with the head of Egyptian intelligence in Ramallah, who, according to an Egyptian security delegation, is to visit Gaza again in the coming days.

Ahmad Abu Ratima, one of the protest organizers, told reporters in Gaza on Saturday that presence in the tent camps near the border is likely to be meager during the week but that every Friday thousands of families, teens and young people heading toward the fence. “We already see masses of young people, without enlistment from the factions and so it’s important that we maintain continued activity, especially every Friday,” Abu Ratima said.

Meanwhile, Palestinian organizations and pro-Palestinian groups in Europe told the Hamas-affiliated website Arsala over the weekend that preparations were being made for a flotilla to the Gaza Strip. Hafiz al Karmi, chairman of the Palestine Forum in Britain, said the flotilla, in which a number of ships will take part, will sail in June at the end of the month of Ramadan and that preparations are underway.

Nine Palestinians were killed during Friday’s demonstrations, with almost 300 wounded, all by live fire. The total number of dead over the last two weekends has reached 29. The Palestinians reported that all of Friday’s fatalities were civilians and that one was a journalist. Israel hasn’t yet released information linking casualties to the armed wings of Hamas and other groups.