Gazans brace for more mass border demos at anniversary

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Palestinians react to tear gas fired by Israeli troops during a protest at the Israeli-Gaza border fence, east of Gaza City March 29, 2019. (Reuters)
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Palestinian sit near to the Israeli-Gaza border fence, ahead of the first anniversary of border protests, east of Gaza City March 29, 2019. (Reuters)
Updated 30 March 2019

Gazans brace for more mass border demos at anniversary

  • Protests have achieved ‘national cohesion, but Gaza’s liberation is still some way off’

GAZA CITY: Protests are to take place across Gaza City on the anniversary of last year’s series of demonstrations against Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip.

The protests began on March 30, last year, when Palestinians voiced their frustration at the siege imposed on their region 13 years ago, and at the refusal of Israeli authorities to allow refugees to return to the towns and villages displaced during the 1948 Nakba.

A member of the political bureau of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Talal Abu Zarifa, said the previous demonstrations had gained international attention through “peaceful popular resistance,” and had helped rehabilitate the Palestinian cause on the international scene. 

He added that regular marches and protests would not stop until the siege was lifted.

Hamas spokesman Hazim Qasim agreed with Zarifa, stating that the protests had achieved “national cohesion,” but acknowledged that the liberation of Gaza was still some way off. 

He added, though, that continued participation in the marches would send a strong message to Israel and the international community that the Palestinians would not give up on their cause.

Writer and political analyst Hossam Al-Dajni said that the most important achievement of the protests was that they had “eroded” Israel’s image as a sympathetic, restrained force, revealing an “uglier” face to the world.

“For years, Israel has been working to connect the Palestinian struggle with terrorism, but during the peaceful marches in Gaza, in which the Palestinians resisted, it committed war crimes in front of the eyes of the world,” he told Arab News.

Meanwhile, protestor Ahmed Al-Burdini, who was disabled after being shot in the leg by an Israeli bullet, said he had not missed a protest in months despite his injury.

“I lost my job because of my disability, and there is now no source of income for our family,” he said, claiming he’d been drawn to demonstrate due to the poor living conditions imposed on Gaza by the blockade.

The UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution on March 22, condemning Israel and the Israeli Defense Force for war crimes against the demonstrators.

US declares Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land 'consistent' with international law

Updated 47 min 41 sec ago

US declares Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land 'consistent' with international law

  • The announcement by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sparked anger among Palestinians
  • The move is the latest by the Trump administration seen as favoring the Israeli position over the Palestinians

WASHINGTON: The United States on Monday backed Israel’s right to build Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank by abandoning its four-decade position that they were “inconsistent with international law.”

The announcement by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sparked anger among Palestinians who say the settlements are the main barrier to their future state.

The shift in US policy follows the Trump administration’s decision to relocate the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem last year, a move seen as undermining Palestinian claims to the eastern half of the city as a future capital.

Pompeo said US statements about the settlements on the West Bank - which Israel captured during a 1967 war - had been inconsistent, saying Democrat President Jimmy Carter in 1978 found they were not consistent with international law and Republican President Ronald Reagan in 1981 said he did not view them as inherently illegal.

“The establishment of Israeli civilian settlements is not, per se, inconsistent with international law,” Pompeo told reporters at the State Department, drawing criticism from a senior Palestinian figure even before his announcement.

“Another blow to international law, justice & peace,” Hanan Ashrawi, a veteran Palestinian negotiator and member of the Palestine Liberation Organization's Executive Committee, said on Twitter ahead of Pompeo’s statement.

The announcement marked the third major instance in which the Trump administration has sided with Israel and against stances taken by the Palestinians and Arab states even before unveiling its long-delayed Israeli-Palestinian peace plan.

In 2017 Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel before opening the embassy in the city. US policy had previously been that the status of Jerusalem was to be decided by the parties to the conflict.

In March, Trump recognized Israel’s 1981 annexation of the Golan Heights in a boost for Netanyahu that prompted a sharp response from Syria, which once held the strategic land.

Trump's move might have been designed to help Netanyahu as he struggles to stay in power. Israeli politics is deadlocked after two inconclusive elections this year. Former military chief Benny Gantz's centrist Blue and White party emerged neck and neck with Netanyahu following a September vote, and both leaders have struggled to put together a ruling coalition.

*With Reuters