Year 24
Month 06
Day 07
dividerNews ArchivedividerSeven Palestinians Die in Clashes at Gaza-Israel Border
Seven Palestinians Die in Clashes at Gaza-Israel Border

Around 20,000 Palestinians gathered along border; Israeli military says grenades, explosive devices and stones hurled at soldiers.

 

At least seven Palestinians were killed in clashes with Israeli security forces on the Gaza-Israel border Friday, after militant group Hamas issued calls for bigger protests amid growing frustrations over stalled cease-fire talks with its neighbor.

Among the dead were a 14-year-old boy, a 15-year-old boy and an 18-year-old man, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry, which said at least 506 people were injured.

The Israeli military said none of its soldiers were injured by Palestinians who hurled grenades, explosive devices and stones at its soldiers across the fence. The military said it also carried out two airstrikes in the northern Gaza Strip in response to violence directed at its soldiers.

Around 20,000 Palestinians gathered in several parts along the border fence between Gaza and Israel after Hamas called for protests on mosque loudspeakers and the radio, according to Israel’s military. More than 10,000 had gathered on the fence last Friday.

Demonstrations on the Gaza-Israel border have picked up in the past two weeks, sometimes turning deadly as protesters have clashed with Israel’s security forces. More than a thousand Palestinians have participated in nightly demonstrations, rather than just the weekly Friday protests held over the past six months.

A fragile cease-fire in early August, which ended intense bouts of fighting between militants in Gaza and Israeli forces, has largely held as the United Nations and Egypt have mediated talks for a longer-term truce. Cairo is also pushing for a political agreement between rivals Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, which largely governs Palestinians in the West Bank.

Israeli security officials attributed the increased protests to a breakdown in negotiations between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority. Hamas officials said Israel is delaying any longer-term peace deal, but they also slammed Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s speech at the U.N. on Thursday, in which he said he would not be responsible for the consequences if there is no agreement with Hamas. Many in Israel and the Palestinian territories interpreted Abbas’s statement as a veiled warning that he’d cut all funding for the embattled Gaza Strip, which he has threatened to do in past speeches.

Mr. Abbas said talks with Hamas could come to a close over the next several days.

A deal between Israel and Hamas for a long-term cease-fire would see Israel offer humanitarian relief and ease security restrictions on Gaza in exchange for a freeze of hostilities from the Strip, according to Israeli and Hamas officials. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi met for two hours this week in New York to discuss Gaza and the peace process, but made no comments on a possible deal.

Humanitarian and economic conditions are quickly deteriorating in Gaza, which has been under a decadelong blockade. The World Bank released a report on Tuesday saying the Gaza Strip’s economy was in a “free fall,” with 53% overall unemployment and over 70% unemployment among youth.

The situation has been made worse by the Palestinian Authority’s decision to cut tens of millions of dollars in monthly funds to Gaza more than a year ago. The Palestinian Authority currently sends $96 million a month to Gaza, a Palestinian official said recently. Mr. Abbas has threatened to stop transferring money to Gaza and sever ties.

A hundred and eighty nine Palestinians have been killed in Gaza since protests on the border began March 30, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.

Ahmed Mushtaha, 50, a father of seven who attended Friday’s protests, said he no longer had faith in Mr. Abbas to achieve Palestinian statehood.

“Abbas has failed for 25 years to give us anything. I don’t believe he would be able to give us anything now, he said. “He promised Palestine would be as developed as Singapore, look at us now. It is very catastrophic.”

Israel’s military defends its response to the protests, saying live fire is necessary to defend its borders from explosive devices, flaming kites, rocks thrown at Israeli forces and attempts to breach the border security fence.

Palestinians on the border are using more explosives, including grenades and improvised explosive devices, an Israeli military official said in an interview. Israel has bolstered its forces on the border in response the daily protests, the official said, adding that it hasn’t made other significant adjustments as protesters have gathered at night throughout the week.

Earlier this week, U.S. President Trump promised to deliver his long-awaited Middle East peace plan within four months—backing a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict for first time. The Palestinian Authority said it does not plan to engage with the American plan, citing bias toward Israel.


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