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Photoblog: Palestinians protest along Gaza border in Great Return March Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

Photoblog: Palestinians protest along Gaza border in Great Return March

The tyre fires were meant to be a smokescreen from Israeli snipers [Abdul-Hakim Abu Rayash]

Date of publication: 6 April, 2018

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See in pictures: Thousands of Palestinians in Gaza take part in protests along the border a week after a similar demonstration led to the bloodiest day since a 2014 war.
Thousands of Palestinians have taken part in protests along the Gaza border for a second week, after a similar demonstration last Friday led to the bloodiest day since a 2014 war.

Israeli forces shot dead at least five people on Friday and wounded hundreds more, just a week after they killed 19 others similarly and wounded thousands of others. 

The massacre came as tens of thousands peacefully protested for the right for Palestinian refugees to return to their occupied ancestral land. Gaza residents streamed to five tent camp sites, each located several hundred metres from the border wall.

From there, large crowds marched to the heavily fortified fence, and some among them started throwing stones at Israeli soldiers who responded with live fire, tear gas and rubber bullets.

Israel's violent response drew widespread condemnation and calls for an independent investigation from the European Union and United Nations chief Antonio Guterres.

This week, the number of protesters was much lower than last, but the determination was the same. 

"I will be a martyr today. I will cross the border," said 20-year-old Ahmed Abu Ghali as he held up his shirt to show wounds from last week that required 40 stitches.

[Abdul-Hakim Abu Rayash]
[Abdul-Hakim Abu Rayash]

Palestinians burned mounds of tyres and threw stones at Israeli soldiers over the border fence.

The tyre fires were meant to be a smokescreen from Israeli snipers, and thick black smoke covered the border area in some places.

Israeli soldiers responded with tear gas and live fire.

[Abdul-Hakim Abu Rayash]

Israeli forces took up positions across a ridge on the other side of the border and set up large fans in an apparent bid to push away the smoke. They also used water canon to try to douse some of the flames.

[Abdul-Hakim Abu Rayash]
[Abdul-Hakim Abu Rayash]
[Abdul-Hakim Abu Rayash]

The Great Return March protests began last week and included cultural events such as traditional Palestinian dabka dancing for the thousands of families, women and children attending.

The march is specifically important to 1.3 million of the besieged enclave's population because they are families of refugees who fled to Gaza during the mass expulsion of Palestinians during Israel's establishment in 1948.

Human Rights Watch said Israel's deadly response to the mass demonstrations was "unlawful and calculated", with senior Israeli officials green-lighting the use of live ammunition against unarmed demonstrators.


Abdul-Hakim Abu Rayash is an al-Araby al-Jadeed photographer based in Gaza. 

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