INTERNATIONAL.- Gaza protest organizers moved sit-in tents closer to the Israeli border fence Thursday, a day before a fourth planned mass demonstration, raising fears of more bloodshed. The protests, largely led by Gaza’s Hamas rulers, began March 30.
Organizers said they’ll gradually move the camps toward the fence until May 15, but made conflicting comments about a possible breach.
Hamas says the protests are aimed at breaking a crippling border blockade that was imposed by Israel and Egypt after the Islamic militant group overran the territory in 2007, a year after winning Palestinian parliament elections.
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The marches also press for the return of the descendants of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who fled or were forced from homes in the 1948 war over Israel’s creation. While some organizers portray the protests as peaceful, Hamas and representatives of other factions have made it clear that a border breach is being considered.
“We will cross the border,” said Daoud Shehab, a member of the organizing committee from the smaller Islamic Jihad group, adding that Israel “should feel really jittery as a result of these marches.”
Israeli military officials have warned that they will not tolerate a mass border breach or permit protesters to get close to the fence.
Israel’s military said Thursday that it is ready for all scenarios and is “prepared to prevent any breach of Israeli sovereignty or damage to the border fence.” Several Israeli communities are close to the border.