Gaza Border Protests Cancelled for Third Week in a Row

Organizing committee says decision is meant to prevent Netanyahu from escalating the situation by shedding blood to extricate himself from political crisis

Teargas canisters fired by Israeli troops fall over Palestinians during a protest at the Gaza Strip's border with Israel, July 13, 2018.
Khalil Hamra / AP

The organizing committee behind Palestinians' weekly protests along the Gaza border, also known as The March of Return, announced the cancellation of demonstration on Friday for the third consecutive week. 

A statement issued Wednesday said the cancellation was not based on any understandings reached between the Gaza factions and Israel, but because of the sensitive security situation and the political crisis in Israel, and to prevent Netanyahu from escalating the situation by shedding blood to extricate himself from it.

Protests will continue in the future, said the statement, according to an assessment of the situation that the committee will hold, "and the March of Return will continue to be part of a non-violent popular struggle."

Over the past two weeks, the protests, which in the past have involved thousands of demonstrators and violent clashes with Israeli troops along the border fence, were called off.

Sources in the organizing committee said, however, that policy on the demonstrations hasn’t changed but is regularly reassessed, considering the situation and the form that the protests should take.

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

Among the targets was a weapons production facility, said the Israeli army, adding several hours later that additional that targets were hit in the northern part of the enclave, including an underground infrastructure. 

Ealier this month, thirty-four Palestinians were killed during the flare-up that was sparked by Israel's targeted assassination of Islamic Jihad commander Baha Abu al-Ata, including nine family members killed by mistake in an Israeli strike. Islamic Jihad fired at least 450 rockets at Israeli communities in retaliation for the targeted assassination of its commander.