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Protesters expected to attempt to cross into Israel


[5/14/2018 4:08:30 AM]

AMMONNEWS - AMMONNEWS - Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip are preparing to cross the highly fortified fence separating the enclave from Israel, as part of the Great March of Return movement.

At least 20 people were wounded on Monday morning when Israel forces fired live ammunition at protesters assembled near the fence, east of Gaza City.

Israeli forces also fired tear gas as tens of thousands of Palestinians arrived to participate in the rally.

Monday's protest comes ahead of the annual commemorations of the Nakba, or "catastrophe", when the state of Israel was established on May 15, 1948, which led to the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their villages.

The protests were also planned to coincide with the moving of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, in line with the US' recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in December, furthering stoking tensions and angering Palestinians.

Protests also kicked off in the occupied West Bank cities of Ramallah and Hebron, as a response to the US embassy move. In Ramallah, Palestinians are expected to protest from the city centre to the Qalandia military checkpoint, the main northern crossing separating Ramallah from Jerusalem.

The demonstrations in the Gaza Strip are part of a weeks-long protest calling for the right of return for Palestinian refugees to the areas they were forcibly expelled from in 1948.

"The number of people showing up to participate is unprecedented in comparison to the past seven weeks of protest," local journalist Maram Humaid told Al Jazeera.

About 70 percent of the Gaza Strip's population of two million are descendants of refugees.

Since the protests began on March 30, Israeli forces have killed at least 49 Palestinians in the coastal enclave and wounded more than 8,500.

Here are all the latest updates as of Monday, May 14:

Palestinians in Gaza prepare to cross fence with Israel
Organisers of the Great March of Return say they are expecting as many as one million people to join the demonstration and attempt to cross the fence with Israel from various points across the border.

A leaflet circulated by the organisers reads: "The national committee for the Great March of Return invites you to participate in the peaceful popular protest, One Million of Return and Breaking the Siege".

A spokesperson for the Great March of Return, Ahmad Abu Artema, told Al Jazeera on Monday that the aim of trying to cross the fence is to "send a message the Palestinian people have not and will not adapt to 70 years of being refugees, estrangement and difficult conditions."

"We are adamant to return, no matter what happens. This is what the people of Gaza want - it's about popular will. And this is their right."

The Right of Return is enshrined in United Nations Resolution 194.

Israeli officials have accused Hamas of being behind the protests, saying the movement exploits Palestinians and deliberately exposes them to danger near the border fence.

The organisers behind the Great March of Return have rejected these claims.

Early on Monday, the Israeli military, which has imposed a land, sea and air blockade on the Gaza Strip for more than a decade, dropped leaflets warning Palestinians to stay away from the border.

Teen Palestinian succumbs to wounds
Jamal Afanah, a 15-year-old boy, died on Saturday in the southern Gaza Strip as a result of wounds inflicted by Israeli security forces the day before, according to Palestinian health officials.

Israeli forces shot Afanah on Friday during protests which took place for the seventh Friday in a row as part of the Great March of Return movement.

Afanah's death takes the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces since the protests began to at least 49.

Egypt to open Rafah border crossing
The Palestinian embassy in Cairo announced that Egypt would open the Rafah border crossing for four days and would allow movement in both directions.

The opening is meant to attend to humanitarian cases, as well as to those whose names are registered waiting to leave the Gaza Strip.

Hundreds mourn death of Jaber Salem Abu Mustafa
Hundreds of Palestinians in the southern Gaza Strip attended the funeral of 40-year-old Jaber Salem Abu Mustafa, who was shot by Israeli forces.

Mustafa was shot in the chest near the Israeli border, east of Khan Younis, on Friday, May 11.

*Agencies

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