AT LEAST twelve Palestinians were killed by Israeli troops today as demonstrations in Gaza were attacked with lethal force.
Gaza’s ruling Hamas movement has called for mass sit-ins along the besieged enclave’s border with Israel in the run-up to the 70th anniversary of the Nakba (“catastrophe”) on May 15, the day that marks the forced expulsion of over 700,000 Palestinians from their homes during the establishment of the Israeli state.
The vast majority of Gaza residents are descendants of Palestinians who fled or were driven from communities in what is now Israel.
Yesterday’s protests involved giant tent cities being set up within a few hundred yards of the border, while thousands marched up to the Israeli lines.
Buses took Palestinians to the border while mosques called on their congregations to participate.
“The large crowds reflect the Palestinian people’s determination to achieve the right of return and break the siege, and no force can stop this right,” Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said.
On the anniversary itself, Hamas says Palestinians will seek to march across the border.
The Israeli Defence Forces said Palestinians rolled burning tyres at the lines and threw stones, prompting soldiers to open fire at “the main instigators.”
The Palestinian Health Ministry reported that over 500 people had been wounded and at least 11 killed by gunfire.
The sixth confirmed victim was a farmer, Amr Samour, killed by an Israeli tank shell in his fields before dawn as he gathered parsley for market.
Israel said it had directed fire at “suspicious figures near the border fence,” though he was killed more than a kilometre away from it.
“I was working in the next field,” said his relative Yasser Samour.
“We heard shelling landing on the field where Amr works. We ran there and found him hit directly.”
Israel said it had doubled the number of troops guarding the border.
“We are identifying attempts to carry out terror attacks under the camouflage of riots,” Major General Eyal Zamir added.
He warned Palestinians to stay away from the border and said Hamas was responsible for any violence that took place.
Source: morning star