Lull in Gaza bor­der protests

The Star Late Edition - - NEWS -

GAZA: Young men filled sand­bags to pre­pare for fu­ture protests at en­camp­ments along Gaza’s Is­raeli bor­der yes­ter­day, though tents were mostly empty as Pales­tini­ans joined Mus­lims around the world ob­serv­ing the day­light fast at the start of Ra­madaan.

Af­ter the blood­i­est day for Pales­tini­ans in years on Mon­day, when 60 were killed by Is­raeli gun­fire dur­ing mass demon­stra­tions that Is­rael said in­cluded at­tempts to breach its fron­tier fence, calm and a heat­wave de­scended on the area.

Or­gan­is­ers of the protests that be­gan on March 30 set to­day as a day to hon­our the dead and urged Gaza res­i­dents to flock again to the tent cities. But Ra­madaan tra­di­tions, such as prayer, fam­ily vis­its and feasts, ap­peared to keep crowds away dur­ing the hot hours.

At one en­camp­ment, about 70 young men filled sand­bags in an­tic­i­pa­tion of peo­ple re­turn­ing. “We are mak­ing a sand bar­rier so peo­ple can feel a bit safer,” one of the men said.

Is­rael’s In­tel­li­gence Min­is­ter Is­rael Katz said on Wed­nes­day that neigh­bour­ing Egypt had put pres­sure on Ha­mas, the armed Is­lamist fac­tion that con­trols the Gaza Strip, to scale back the protests. How­ever, Ha­mas de­nied it had come un­der Egyp­tian pres­sure to curb the protests, which pro­voked in­ter­na­tional con­dem­na­tion of Is­rael’s use of deadly force in a bid to quell the un­rest.

The “March of Re­turn” demon­stra­tions advocate the re­turn of Pales­tini­ans to lands lost to Is­rael dur­ing its found­ing in 1948, and are also in­tended to draw at­ten­tion to harsh con­di­tions in Gaza, where the econ­omy has col­lapsed un­der an Is­raeli-Egyp­tian block­ade since Ha­mas took power in 2007. – Reuters

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