Days after cease-fire, Gaza border demonstrations to resume

A Palestinian protester carries his national flag and tyres to burn during a demonstration near the border with Israel, east of Gaza City, on October 19, 2018. (AFP)

Palestinian organizers of the weekly demonstrations in the Gaza Strip along the Israeli border said they will hold another protest on Friday - in a key test of this week's cease-fire between Israel and Gaza militant groups.

Tuesday's cease-fire ended the heaviest fighting between Israel and Gaza's Hamas rulers since a 2014 war.

The fighting was fueled in part by the demonstrations. Since late March, thousands of Gazans have joined the Hamas-led demonstrations in a bid to end a crippling Israeli blockade.

Protesters frequently lob grenades, flaming tires and firebombs toward Israeli troops, who respond with tear gas and live fire. Some 170 Palestinians, many of them unarmed, have been killed by Israeli fire. Israel says it is defending its border against militant attackers.

Hamas had lowered the intensity of the protests in recent weeks as UN and Egyptian mediators made progress toward an unofficial agreement with Israel.

But then this week's fighting erupted after a botched Israeli undercover military operation in Gaza.

Gaza militants fired 460 rockets into Israel, while the Israeli air force struck 160 targets in Gaza. The fighting left a total of 14 Palestinians, including 12 militants, dead. An Israeli officer was killed during the Gaza raid, while a Palestinian laborer who worked in Israel was killed in a rocket attack.

In their announcement, protest organizers in Gaza urged people to demonstrate on Friday “to thank the resistance” for battling Israel.

It remained unclear how big the protests would be, and whether the demonstrators would confront the Israeli troops, or keep their distance as in recent weeks.

Hamas and its supporters have celebrated the cease-fire as a victory against the powerful Israeli military. 

Israeli political crisis 

In Israel, the cease-fire has triggered a political crisis. Israel's defense minister, who favored a much harsher response, resigned to protest the truce, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu could soon be forced to call an early election.

Angry Israelis in rocket-scarred southern communities near Gaza have protested against the cease-fire in recent days. Another demonstration was being held on Thursday night in Tel Aviv.

Also on Thursday, Israeli police said that a knife-wielding Palestinian attacker sneaked into a Jerusalem police station and lightly wounded four police officers before he was shot and apprehended.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the knife-wielding attacker climbed over the station's fence late on Wednesday night and began stabbing officers inside. Other officers then shot the assailant, who was caught and taken to a hospital.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:52 - GMT 06:52
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