Gaza - Palestinians on Wednesday marked the 71st anniversary of their mass displacement during the 1948 war around Israel’s creation with protests across the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
Thousands of people streamed to the Gaza-Israel frontier as the militant Hamas group, which controls Gaza, announced a general strike, closing schools and public institutions to allow for a large turnout.
For a year, Hamas has staged protests every Friday along the perimeter fence dividing Israel and Gaza, demanding an end to an Israeli-Egyptian blockade.
More than 60 Palestinians were killed at last year’s demonstration, which coincided with the opening of the new U.S. Embassy in contested Jerusalem.
This year’s demonstration, however, comes two weeks after a cease-fire was reached to end a fierce two-day round of fighting. A Qatari envoy, who has been helping mediate the cease-fire, has urged Hamas to keep Wednesday’s demonstration restrained.
However, Gaza’s health authorities said 60 protesters were wounded, 16 by Israeli live fire and 14 with rubber-coated steel pellets, including three medics, as the demonstrations ended.
In east Gaza City, huge plumes of smoke billowed behind the fence as Israeli farmland caught fire by arson devices launched by the protesters.