Palestinians call for mass Gaza border protests on Saturday – Arab-Israeli Conflict Factions in the Gaza Strip are urging Palestinians to participate in Saturday’s mass protests near the border with Israel afternoon prayers. The factions urged Palestinians on Thursday to “maintain the peaceful and popular nature” of the protests, and said they don’t want to give Israel an excuse to use force against the demonstrators.
Saturday’s protests marking the first anniversary of the “Great March of Return” weekly demonstrations coincides with Land Day, an annual day of commemoration of the events that took place in Israel in 1976 after the Israeli government’s decision to expropriate thousands of hectares in the Galilee. The organizers said they are hoping that tens of thousands of Gazans will join the mass protests.
The call for mass participation in Saturday’s protests near the border with Israel came as Egyptian intelligence officials held talks in the Gaza Strip with leaders of various Palestinian groups, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad, to discuss ways of averting an all-out confrontation between the Palestinians and Israel. The Egyptian security delegation, headed by Gen. Ahmed Abdel Khaleq, arrived in the Gaza Strip late Wednesday. On Thursday afternoon, the delegation headed back to Israel to brief Israeli officials on the outcome of their talks with the Palestinian groups in the Gaza Strip. Sources in the Gaza Strip said that the Egyptian intelligence officials demanded that the Palestinian factions work towards preventing Palestinians from engaging in violence during Saturday’s protests. The Egyptians reportedly relayed a message from Israel to the leaders of Hamas and Islamic Jihad to the effect that Israel will respond with full force to any attempt to infiltrate the border or harm its soldiers.Husam Badran, a senior Hamas official in the Gaza Strip, said on Thursday that the weekly protests near the border with Israel will increase and expand in the coming days and weeks. He said that calm and stability on the Israeli side of the border with the Gaza Strip was “dependent on the extent of the Israeli government’s adherence to understandings that were reached to lift the blockade on the Gaza Strip.” The Israelis living near the border with the Gaza Strip will continue to live in anxiety as long as the Palestinians are suffering due to the blockade, he added