Hamas-backed activists launched the first in a series of nighttime protests along the Israeli border aimed at increasing pressure on Israel to ease the paralyzing economic blockade of the Gaza Strip. There was an exchange of fire. Five protesters were injured, according to the news agency Wafa.
The organizers of the protests said they would go on for a whole week. “The occupation will not be peaceful until the siege of our beloved land is lifted,” said Abu Omar, a spokesman for the protesters.
Israel and Egypt have held a blockade since Hamas, the group that declared the destruction of Israel, seized control of Gaza in 2007, 12 months after it won the Palestinian elections.
The blockade that restricts the flow of goods and people to and from Gaza has devastated the area’s economy. Israel exacerbated it after an 11-day war in May, demanding the return of the bodies of two killed soldiers and the release of two Israeli civilians believed to be held captive by Hamas.
Five Palestinians injured
Amateur footage and photos from Gaza show hundreds of Palestinian protesters taking part in Saturday’s demonstration. Some of them throw explosives at Israeli soldiers.
The Israeli military reported that soldiers reacted to the explosives by firing live ammunition at the protesters. The military said there were no casualties on the Israeli side.
The official Palestinian news agency Wafa said five protesters were injured.
Clashes in the Gaza Strip
For an exchange of fire between Palestinian fighters and Israeli forces it also happened last Saturday. As a result, an Israeli soldier and two Palestinians, including a 13-year-old, suffered serious injuries, the Reuters agency reported. According to the services, another 39 residents of the Gaza Strip were slightly injured. In response, Israeli planes attacked Hamas positions.
Main photo source: EPA / MOHAMMED SABER