Clashes have broken out between Palestinians and Israeli troops near Gaza’s fence as large groups of protesters gather for what is expected to be the largest anti-occupation rally since last Friday, when the Israeli military shot and killed 20 unarmed demonstrators.
Hundreds of protesters have already arrived at the fence separating the Gaza Strip from the Israeli-occupied territories, with their numbers expected to reach some 30,000 later on Friday.
On March 30 marked the start of a six-week protest in Gaza, dubbed “The Great March of Return.”
That mass protest turned violent when Israeli military forces used lethal force to disperse the crowd.
Earlier on Friday, another Palestinian died of gunshot wounds suffered last week, bringing the death toll from Israel’s brutal crackdown to 20. Some 1,500 people were also injured.
Thousands of Palestinians have stayed in tent encampments near the fence over the past week.
Israel has deployed military vehicles and special forces, including snipers, to Gaza’s border. The regime’s forces have also to permission to open fire on the protesters near the fence.
Palestinian activists have dubbed today’s protest “Tires’ Friday.
There have been widespread social media calls for protesters to bring tires to burn and create a smokescreen to make it harder for Israeli snipers to target people.
The Israeli military has defied international condemnations of its shoot-to-kill orders.
On the eve of the new rally, Avigdor Liberman, the Israeli minister for military affairs, threatened that the military will continue to fire at Gazans if they approach the fence.
In the Gaza Strip, almost 1.3 million of the small territory’s two million inhabitants are refugees, demanding their right to return to their pre-1948 homes.
The protests are slated to continue until 15 May, which marks the 70th anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba (Catastrophe), in which more than 750,000 Palestinians were forcibly displaced by Israeli forces in 1948 Arab-Israeli war.
Israel’s bloody crackdown last week has drawn harsh international criticisms, with Palestinians and the Arab League, among others calling for investigations by the Unite Nations and the International Criminal Court (ICC) into Israel’s brutal killings.
Inside the occupied territories, Israeli rights group B’Tselem has launched a campaign urging the regime’s forces to refuse the military’s “manifestly illegal” open-fire orders.
(This item is being updated.)