Thousands of Palestinians demonstrate to mark ‘Nakba’

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Israeli forces send tear gas on Palestinian men observing clashes along the Israeli fence during clashes with Israeli forces following a protest marking the 71st anniversary of Nakba in El-Burej in the central Gaza Strip on May 15, 2019. (AFP)
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A wounded Palestinian woman is carried away from the border fence during a protest with Israeli forces east of Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on May 15, 2019, during a protest marking the 71st anniversary of Nakba. (AFP)
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Palestinian demonstrators run for cover from tear gas canisters fired by Israeli forces during a protest marking the 71st anniversary of the 'Nakba' near the Israel-Gaza border fence, east of Gaza City May 15, 2019. (Reuters)
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A Palestinian man rides a camel during clashes with Israeli forces following a protest marking the 71st anniversary of Nakba in El-Burej in the central Gaza Strip on May 15, 2019. (AFP)
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Palestinian protesters throw back Israeli tear gas canisters during clashes with Israeli forces following a protest marking the 71st anniversary of Nakba in El-Burej in the central Gaza Strip on May 15, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 15 May 2019

Thousands of Palestinians demonstrate to mark ‘Nakba’

  • In the West Bank city of Ramallah, protesters held up giant paper keys to symbolize their will to return to the lands and homes they were expelled from or were forced to abandon, now located inside Israel
  • More than 700,000 Palestinians fled or were expelled from their land during the 1948 war surrounding the creation of Israel

GAZA CITY: Palestinians protested Wednesday for the annual commemoration of what they call the Nakba, or catastrophe, when hundreds of thousands were expelled or fled during the 1948 war surrounding the creation of Israel.
Thousands gathered at various locations along the volatile border fence between Israel and the Gaza Strip, while crowds also demonstrated in the occupied West Bank.
Protests and clashes in Gaza a year earlier, which coincided with the controversial move of the US embassy to Israel to Jerusalem, had seen more than 60 Palestinians killed by Israeli fire but Wednesday’s were far smaller.
The clashes on Wednesday erupted along parts of the border fence, with the health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza reporting 65 people injured, including 16 with gunshot wounds.
Protesters largely avoided approaching the fence, an AFP journalist said.
The AFP journalist on the border saw a number of kites being floated across the border and a fire breaking out inside Israeli territory.

Palestinians in Gaza have regularly used kites with firebombs attached to them to set fires on the Israeli side of the fence.
Israel’s military said around 10,000 “rioters and demonstrators” were along the Gaza fence.
“The rioters are setting tires on fire and hurling rocks,” it said in a statement.
“A number of explosive devices have been hurled within the Gaza Strip as well, and a number of attempts have been made to approach the security fence.”
It said “troops are responding with riot dispersal means.”
In the West Bank city of Ramallah, protesters held up giant paper keys to symbolize their will to return to the lands and homes they were expelled from or were forced to abandon, now located inside Israel.
Palestinians commemorate the Nakba every year.

Opinion

This section contains relevant reference points, placed in (Opinion field)

More than 700,000 Palestinians fled or were expelled from their land during the 1948 war surrounding the creation of Israel.
This year’s protests came two weeks after a deadly flare-up between Gaza militants and Israel which threatened to spill into a new war.
After two days a truce was reached under which Israel is meant to ease its blockade of the strip in exchange for calm, according to Hamas officials. Israel has not commented on the truce.
Bassem Naim, a senior Hamas figure, told AFP at a protest site east of Gaza City the “truce understandings played a role in controlling the demonstrations” on Wednesday.
Separately, there have also been regular protests and clashes along the Gaza border for more than a year.
At least 293 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire in Gaza since the protests began in March 2018.
The majority died during the often-violent weekly protests, though others were killed in Israeli air strikes or by tank fire in response to violence from Gaza.
Six Israelis have been killed in Gaza-related violence over the same time period.
Violence peaked on May 14, 2018 when 62 Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire as tens of thousands approached the border, with many seeking to breach the fence.


Anti-Assad fighters withdraw from key area of northwest Syria

Updated 20 August 2019

Anti-Assad fighters withdraw from key area of northwest Syria

  • The withdrawal means an important Turkish observation point in the nearby town of Morek is effectively surrounded by government forces
  • After eight years of civil war, the Idlib region on the border with Turkey is the last major stronghold of opposition to President Bashar

BEIRUT: Jihadists and allied rebels withdrew from a key area of northwestern Syria Tuesday as President Bashar Assad’s forces pressed an offensive against the jihadist-run Idlib region, a war monitor said.
The fighters pulled back from the town of Khan Sheikun and the countryside to its south overnight and in the early hours of Tuesday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
The withdrawal means an important Turkish observation point in the nearby town of Morek is effectively surrounded by government forces, Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.
On Monday, a Turkish military convoy crossed the border into the Idlib region, sparking condemnation from Damascus as Ankara alleged air strikes had targeted its troops.
The convoy halted just north of Khan Sheikhun on Monday afternoon and remained there on Tuesday, after government forces took control of a section of the highway into the town.
Pro-government newspaper Al-Watan said Monday morning’s strike targeted a rebel vehicle scouting the road in front of the Turkish convoy.
“The Syrian army in its own way sent a clear message to the Turkish regime by forcing convoys sent by Ankara to help the terrorists in Khan Sheikhun to come to a halt,” it said.
It was a “clear warning against any Turkish attempt to resuscitate the terrorists,” the paper said, adding that the strike had “Russian support.”
After eight years of civil war, the Idlib region on the border with Turkey is the last major stronghold of opposition to President Bashar Assad’s regime.
Since January, it has been administered by the Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham alliance, which is led by jihadists from Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate.
The region of some three million people was supposed to be protected by a Turkish-Russian buffer zone deal signed last year.
But government and Russian forces have subjected it to heavy bombardment since late April, killing more than 860 civilians, according to an Observatory toll.
The United Nations says the shelling and air strikes have also hit dozens of health facilities and caused more than 400,000 people to flee their homes.
The war in Syria has killed more than 370,000 people since the rebels first took arms following the brutal repression of anti-government protests in 2011.
Rival interventions by outside powers have turned it into a complex conflict with multiple battle fronts that has driven millions of civilians from their homes.