Dozens of Palestinians injured by Israeli gunfire, tear gas in Gaza border protests

Palestinian paramedics carry away a protester injured during a demonstration along the border between Israel and the Gaza strip, east of Khan Yunis. (AFP)
Updated 25 May 2018
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Dozens of Palestinians injured by Israeli gunfire, tear gas in Gaza border protests

GAZA BORDER: Dozens of Palestinians demonstrating at the Gaza border were injured by Israeli gunfire and tear gas on Friday, as the latest round of protests drew several thousand participants to the frontier.
Dubbed the March of Return, the protests were launched on March 30 to demand the right of return for Palestinian refugees and their descendants to family lands or homes lost to Israel during its founding in a 1948 war.
Protests along the border reached a peak on May 14 when Gaza medical sources said at least 60 Palestinians were killed by Israeli gunfire. The violence has tapered off since but there are still sporadic flare-ups.
Since the border protests began, 113 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire, Gaza medical officials said.
Most of the participants on Friday kept their distance and remained about 800 meters from the fence. Dozens of youths, however, advanced to around 300 meters distance and burned tires at one protest spot. East of Gaza City some youths came right up to the fence and tried to pull it apart.
Israeli troops fired tear gas and live rounds. Soldiers also fired at kites with flaming tails to try to bring them down before they landed in Israeli farmland and set crops alight.
Gaza health ministry officials said at least 109 protesters were hurt. Medics said at least 10 were wounded by live rounds. Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh and the group’s Gaza leader, Yehya Al-Sinwar, joined separate protest encampments raising cheers from the assembled crowds.
“The marches of return are not over. They may be smaller but we are continuing,” said Ali, a participant who masked his face with his t-shirt at a protest east of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip.
Protesters dispersed as dusk fell to prepare to break their daytime fast during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Gaza has been controlled since 2007 by Hamas. Israel and Egypt, citing security concerns, maintain a de facto blockade on Gaza, which has reduced its economy to a state of collapse.
Israel has blamed Hamas for provoking the violence.
“They’re pushing civilians – women, children – into the line of fire with a view of getting casualties. We try to minimize casualties. They’re trying to incur casualties in order to put pressure on Israel, which is horrible,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told CBS News last week.
Salah Al-Bardaweel, a Hamas official in Gaza, told a Palestinian television channel that the majority of those killed on May 14 were Hamas members.


Israel quiet on US claims it hit Iraq militia in Syria

Updated 19 June 2018
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Israel quiet on US claims it hit Iraq militia in Syria

  • The Sunday evening strike against the Al-Hari base on the Syrian side of the border with Iraq came less than 24 hours after Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel would strike Iran’s “proxies” anywhere in Syria
  • Syrian authorities and the Iraqi paramilitaries both blamed Washington for the strike, which killed at least 52 fighters, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights

JERUSALEM: Israel declined to comment on Tuesday on a weekend air strike against an Iraqi paramilitary base in eastern Syria after its US ally implicated it in the attack.
The Sunday evening strike against the Al-Hari base on the Syrian side of the border with Iraq came less than 24 hours after Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel would strike Iran’s “proxies” anywhere in Syria.
Fighters of Iraq’s Hashed Al-Shaabi paramilitary force, mainly composed of Iran-trained Shiite militia, have played a major role in the war against the Sunni extremists of the Daesh group in Syria as well as Iraq.
But their presence has sparked confrontations with both Washington, which has been supporting a Kurdish-led alliance that controls other parts of eastern Syria, and Israel, which fears Iranian-inspired attacks on its forces in the occupied Golan Heights.
Syrian authorities and the Iraqi paramilitaries both blamed Washington for the strike, which killed at least 52 fighters, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
But US officials denied any involvement and instead pointed the finger at Israel.
“We have reasons to believe that it was an Israeli strike,” one US official told AFP on condition of anonymity.
The Israeli military declined to be drawn on the US claims. “We are not commenting on foreign reports,” a spokeswoman said.
The military has carried out previous strikes against Iranian targets in Syria, but most have been significantly closer to Israel or the Israeli-occupied Golan.
Last month, Israel launched a large-scale attack on what it said were Iranian targets in Syria, raising fears of a major confrontation.
Those strikes followed a barrage of rockets that Israel said was fired toward its forces in the occupied Golan by Iran from Syria.
Even before that, Israel had been blamed for a series of recent strikes inside Syria that killed Iranians, though it has not acknowledged them.
Speaking at a cabinet meeting in Jerusalem on Sunday morning, Netanyahu reiterated his position that “Iran needs to withdraw from all of Syria.”
“We will take action — and are already taking action — against efforts to establish a military presence by Iran and its proxies in Syria both close to the border and deep inside Syria,” the prime minister said.
“We will act against these efforts anywhere in Syria.”
Israeli seized a large swathe of the Golan Heights from Syria in the Six-Day War of 1967 and later annexed it in a move never recognized by the international community.
Iran has been a close ally of the Syrian regime for some four decades and, with Russia, has been a key supporter in the civil war that broke out in 2011.