GAZA CITY – Weekly Hamas-backed demonstrations along the Gaza-Israel border will be suspended for three months, protest organizers in the Palestinian enclave said Thursday, December 26.
Protests on Friday would be the last until March 30, 2020, Talal abu Zarifa, a member of the organising committee for the ‘March of Return’, told Agence France-Presse (AFP).
The weekly protests began in March 2018, calling for an end to Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip and for Palestinians to be allowed to return to their ancestral homes inside the Jewish state.
When they resume, the demonstrations will be monthly, rather than weekly, Zarifa said.
He did not give a specific reason for the decision, but the number of attendees has dwindled in recent months.
Israel contends that any ‘return’ of Palestinians to their ancestral homes would mean an end to its status as a Jewish state.
It accused the Gaza Strip’s Islamist rulers Hamas of orchestrating the protests as cover for cross-border attacks.
But Hamas has over the last year gradually shaped an informal – if precarious and at times intermittent – truce with Israel, under which the Jewish state has slightly eased its blockade of the enclave in exchange for calm along the border.
As part of the agreements, Israel has allowed Gulf state Qatar to bring millions of dollars worth of fuel and cash into Gaza every month, easing a humanitarian crisis.
Demonstrations have seen Palestinians throw stones and molotov cocktails at Israeli forces along the border, who have used live fire on protesters.
The protests initially attracted tens of thousands of people.
At least 348 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza by Israeli fire since the marches began, the majority during the demonstrations, according to an AFP toll.
A further 7,800 people have been wounded by gunfire, according to the World Health Organization.
Israel and Hamas have fought three wars since 2008. – Rappler.com