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Hundreds Join Final Gaza-Israel Border Protests for 3 Months

Hundreds Join Final Gaza-Israel Border Protests for 3 Months

Friday, 27 December, 2019 - 18:45
Palestinians gather as tear gas is fired by Israeli forces during a protest marking Land Day at the Israel-Gaza border fence east of Gaza City March 30, 2019. (Reuters)

Hundreds of Palestinians took part in protests along the Gaza-Israel border Friday, the last of the Hamas-backed demonstrations until March.

Amid heavy rain and wind, the rallies had the lowest turnout in months, with tensions far lower than in previous weeks and no live fire by the Israeli army, an AFP correspondent said.

The army fired however some volleys of tear gas in the southern Gaza Strip after protesters in the border town of Rafah and in Khan Yunis approached the fence, hurling rocks and Molotov cocktails at the soldiers on the other side of the frontier.

The often violent weekly protests began in March 2018, calling for an end to Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip and for Palestinians to be allowed to return to their ancestral homes inside the Jewish state.

At least 348 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza by Israeli fire since the marches began, the majority during the demonstrations, according to an AFP toll.

A further 7,800 people have been wounded by gunfire, according to the World Health Organization.

Eight Israelis have been killed during the same period in Gaza-related violence.

Organizers announced Thursday the protests would halt until March 2020 amid dwindling turnout.

Hamas has over the last year shaped a precarious informal truce with Israel, which has slightly eased its blockade of the enclave in exchange for calm along the border, despite intermittent flare-ups.

As part of the agreements, Israel has allowed Qatar to bring millions of dollars worth of fuel and cash into Gaza every month, easing a humanitarian crisis.

Israel and Hamas have fought three wars since 2008.

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