Gaza (Palestinian Territories) (AFP) – Thousands of Palestinians demonstrated Wednesday in the Gaza Strip and the occupied West Bank at the annual Nakba commemoration, the “catastrophe” that Israel’s creation represented for them in 1948.
The day was testament to the fragile ceasefire announced about 10 days after the worst violence between Israel and Palestinian armed groups in the Gaza Strip since the 2014 war in that enclave.
Thousands of Palestinians gathered at various points in this enclave along the border fence heavily guarded by the Israeli army.
Clashes between some of them and Israeli soldiers, according to an AFP journalist. The health minister of the territory under the control of the Hamas Islamist movement, a sworn enemy of Israel, reported 65 Palestinian wounded, including 16 shot dead.
But mobilization and violence remained relatively contained, and Palestinians largely remained at a distance from the border.
- – Kites –
In 2018, more than sixty Palestinians were killed along the border during a day of Nakba commemorations and protest against the inauguration of the new US embassy in Israel in Jerusalem.
An AFP journalist saw on Wednesday a number of kites launched on the Gaza side crossing the border towards Israel, and a fire explode in Israeli territory.
Since March 2018, Gazans have been using kites with a makeshift arson device to provoke fires in Israel. The process has become a cause for exasperation for Israeli residents of Gaza and for the authorities.
The Israeli army claimed that about 10,000 Gazans protested Wednesday, some of them violently, along the border. Palestinians burned tires to hide their actions, threw stones and explosive devices or tried to approach the security fence several meters high, she said.
The soldiers fought back with riot control, she added, which usually includes live ammunition.
Palestinians also demonstrated in the West Bank, another Palestinian territory some tens of kilometers away and under Israeli occupation.
In Ramallah, the political capital of the West Bank under relative control of the Palestinian Authority, protesters waved large paper wrenches demanding to return to the lands and homes they fled or were kicked out of creating from Israel in 1948.
- – Truce –
Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were thrown on the roads during the war accompanying the creation of Israel.
The Gaza Strip, wedged between Israel, Egypt and the Mediterranean, has been plagued since March 2018 by weekly demonstrations, usually interspersed with violence along the border, and a succession of confrontations between Israel and Palestinian armed groups.
The most serious date of early May. Palestinian groups fired hundreds of rockets into Israel, which the Israeli army fought back by striking hundreds of targets in the Gaza Strip. Four Israeli civilians and 25 Palestinians, including at least nine fighters, were killed before the announcement of a ceasefire after two days of hostilities.
Israel demands calm to keep the truce. Palestinian groups demand a lightening of the Israeli blockade. Israel has since taken certain measures of appeasement.
Bassem Naim, a senior Hamas official, told AFP on Wednesday at one of the protest sites that “the provisions of the truce had played a role in keeping the demonstrations under control.”
Since March 2018, at least 293 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza by Israeli gunfire. The vast majority died during the protests, but a number of them died in Israeli strikes of retaliation for hostile acts from Gaza.
Six Israelis were killed during the same period.