05/15/2018, 18.02
ISRAEL – PALESTINE
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As tens of thousands attend the funerals for Gaza’s dead, protests and strikes break out in the West Bank

The funeral procession replaced planned action. In Bethlehem protesters burn tyres whilst Israeli soldiers fire live bullets wounding 45 people. Palestinians pray and sing in Tel Aviv. For Israel, Hamas alone is to blame. The latter’s goal was to put the Strip in the spotlight.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews/Agencies) – An unexpected calm descended upon Gaza, as tens of thousands of Palestinians carried the remains of the 60 people killed in yesterday's protests. In the West Bank, shops and offices were closed and protests were held in the main cities.

Israeli military sources report that some 400 Palestinians are currently protesting at six locations along the Israel-Gaza border whilst an estimated 1,300 Palestinians are involved in clashes in the West Bank.

A Palestinian succumbed to his wounds after being shot during clashes near the al-Bureij camp on Monday, the Gaza Health Ministry reports.

In addition to mourning the dozens of dead, Palestinians today commemorated the "Nakba". On May 15, 1948, the day after Israel’s Declaration of Independence, the first Arab-Israeli conflict broke out.

Over the following months, up to 700,000 Palestinians fled or were forced out of their homes. On this day, Palestinians demand the right of refugees to return to their ancestral lands.

In the West Bank, Palestinians held rallies and called a general strike. Shops and government offices were also closed in Gaza and East Jerusalem.

In the early afternoon, in Bethlehem, demonstrators set fire to tyres to create a smoke screen between the crowd and the Israeli soldiers stationed outside the military base near the city. In their response, Israeli police fired rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas and sound bombs, wounding 45 people.

Palestinians in Tel Aviv marked the 70th anniversary of the Nakba by singing the Palestinian national anthem Mawtini (My Home Land). Students recited the absentee funeral prayer for Palestinians killed in Gaza Strip yesterday and carried slogans on cardboard that slammed Israel.

Meanwhile, some media report that Hamas sent indirect messages to Israeli authorities that it might rein in protests today.

This morning Gaza’s rulers dismantled the tents installed on 30 March at the start of the March of the Return, bringing to an end protests held every Friday for the past six weeks ago.

Israel’s crackdown was particularly violent, causing the death of more than a hundred people with at least 10,000 wounded.

Israel has always insisted on the legitimacy of its actions to defend the border against the terrorist threat of Hamas, blaming the latter for yesterday’s deaths.

The Israeli government is convinced that Gaza’s rulers achieved their goal: making Gaza front-page news again.

For their part, Israeli forces continue to be deployed along the border in case of new protests and attempts to cross the barrier.

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