Palestinians preparing to cross the fence separating Gaza from Israel
Cii Radio|Ayesha Ismail|14 May 2018|27 Shabaan 1439
Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip are preparing to cross the highly fortified fence separating the enclave from Israel, as part of the Great March of Return movement.
Monday’s rallies come ahead of the annual commemorations of the Nakba, or “catastrophe”, when the state of Israel was established on May 15, 1948, which led to the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homes and villages.
The protests were also planned to coincide with the moving of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, in line with the US’ recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in December, furthering stoking tensions and angering Palestinians.
The rallies are part of a weeks-long protest calling for the right of return for Palestinian refugees to the areas they were forcibly expelled from in 1948.
About 70 percent of the Gaza Strip’s population of two million are descendants of refugees.
Since the protests began on March 30, Israeli forces have killed at least 49 Palestinians in the coastal enclave and wounded more than 8,500.
Palestinians in Gaza prepare to cross fence with Israel
Organisers of the Great March of Return say they are expecting as many as one million people to join the demonstration and attempt to cross the fence with Israel from various points across the border.
A leaflet circulated by the organisers reads: “The national committee for the Great March of Return invites you to participate in the peaceful popular protest, One Million of Return and Breaking the Siege”.
A spokesperson for the Great March of Return, Ahmad Abu Artema, told Al Jazeera on Monday that the aim of trying to cross the fence is to “send a message the Palestinian people have not and will not adapt to 70 years of being refugees, estrangement and difficult conditions.”
“We are adamant to return, no matter what happens. This is what the people of Gaza want – it’s about popular will. And this is their right.”
The Right of Return is enshrined in United Nations Resolution 194.
Israeli officials have accused Hamas of being behind the protests, saying the movement exploits Palestinians and deliberately exposes them to danger near the border fence.
The organisers behind the Great March of Return have rejected these claims.
Early on Monday, the Israeli military, which has imposed a land, sea and air blockade on the Gaza Strip for more than a decade, dropped leaflets warning Palestinians to stay away from the border.
Source – Al Jazeera