Palestinians to march as US embassy move nears
Cii Radio| Ayesha Ismail|22 March 2018|04 Rajab 1439
As the transfer of the US embassy to occupied Jerusalem approaches, Palestinians are planning to march by the tens of thousands to the fence that encloses the Gaza Strip to dramatise their plight.
“We want to frighten the Israelis with the images of massive crowds of people who peaceably gather and sit close to the border,” Hamas spokesman Ahmad Abu Retaima said. “We are working to bring out more than 100,000 people for the march.”
The announcement comes amid growing tensions over President Donald Trump’s December recognition of occupied Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and a US peace plan that has yet to see the light of day. Palestinian National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who has cut off all contact with the White House since December, this week called US ambassador David Friedman a “son of a dog”.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted that Palestinian leaders — used to being “spoiled” by US administrations — were “losing their cool”.
Israeli occupation authorities are bracing for escalation beginning March 30, when Hamas will begin building tent camps along Gaza’s 40km border with Israel. Six weeks later Palestinians plan a mass march towards the border, defying warnings from Israeli officials — who doubt the march will remain peaceful — to stay 100 metres from the fence.
Trump’s envoys have continued preparing their peace plan and say they will present it when the time is right. According to a new poll by the Palestinian Centre for Policy and Survey Research in Ramallah, 88 per cent of Palestinians believe the plan will favour Israel. Abbas has already pledged to reject the plan.
PNA officials refused to attend last week’s White House summit that brought together Israel, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other countries seeking solutions for Gaza’s humanitarian distress. Abbas on Monday described the summit as a plot against the Palestinians and said he was imposing fresh sanctions on Hamas in Gaza.
Efforts to repair the schism between the PNA and Hamas have fallen apart, exacerbated by last week’s bombing of the motorcade carrying the PNA’s prime minister and intelligence chief on a rare visit to Gaza. Abbas blamed Hamas for the attack; Hamas accused Abbas of undermining Palestinian unity.
Israeli regime officials say Abbas’s pressure on Hamas is intensifying the distress of Gaza’s 1.9 million inhabitants, which Hamas seeks to channel against Israel. Defence Minister Avigdor Liberman last week accused Abbas of trying to push Israel and Hamas into war.
The Gaza protests correspond with red-letter dates on the Palestinian calendar. March 30 is “Land Day,” marking a 1976 incident when Israeli forces killed six Arab citizens amid violent demonstrations. In mid-May, when the US embassy is tentatively slated to open, Palestinians commemorate the “Nakba”, or catastrophe, of Israel’s founding.
The Hamas march is “clearly an attempt to break through the fences, and they are ready to tolerate losses,” Ehud Yaari, an international fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said in a conference call.
Hamas also appealed to Palestinians in the West Bank to confront Israeli occupation soldiers and colonists to keep the conflict “boiling”. Abbas’s government is sponsoring frequent “Days of Rage” where Palestinians are expected to vent their anger at Israel.
Yousuf Munayyer, an analyst at the Arab Center in Washington, said the border march will force Israel into an unpalatable choice.
“You’re essentially talking about the Israeli military lining up like a firing squad against a wall of Palestinians civilians walking towards the fence,” Munayyer said. “I don’t think that’s the optics the Israelis want to have out there.”
Source – Gulf News