21:27 GMT +312 December 2018
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    Palestinian protestors are seen next to the border fence between Israel, on the Gaza side of the border May 15, 2018

    Israeli Army Braces for New Protests on Gaza Border in Wake of Fire Exchange

    © REUTERS / Amir Cohen
    Middle East
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    Just weeks after the Palestinian “March of Return,” which turned violent and took the lives of 118 people, ended, its organizers have called for new anti-Israeli protests along the fence on the Gaza Border. Amid the largest spike in tensions in years, the Israeli military has stated that their reaction to border crossing attempts remains the same.

    Ahead of the new waves of Palestinian protests on the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel, a senior official of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), cited by Haaretz, has stated that their protocol along the fence on the Gaza border remains the same as during the “March of Return” clashes. He said the IDF would prevent attempts to cross the border, but try to avoid deaths, as only brigade commanders will have the right to order to open fire.

    Special buses are taking eager protesters to the camps on the border. Calls to take part in a new round of demonstrations have come from the organizers of the “March of Return,” who expect many people to join these protests as now Muslims are fasting during Ramadan, according to the media. They also state that this time they will be more careful due to the recent spike in violence and military activities.

    The situation on the border escalated on May 28, particularly after an Israeli tank attacked a militant observation post in response to an attempted violation of the border by two Palestinians.

    A full-scale IDF operation began the next day after missiles were allegedly launched from the Gaza Strip. Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman commented on the issue, saying the strikes against Gaza are "only the beginning." The Israel Defense Forces struck 25 targets in the Gaza Strip, in response to reports of mortars being fired from Gaza, with one hitting a kindergarten.

    READ MORE: IDF Officer Says Israel 'Closest' to War With Gaza Since 2014 — Report

    The violent clashes between Palestinian protestors and the IDF on the Gaza border with Israel erupted in March when the Palestinians started their rallies called the “Great March of Return,” demand the right of Arab refugees to return to the territory of Israel, which the country has blocked with the creation of the state of Israel. Violence mounted on May 14, when the participants were supposed to try to cross the border fence, which Israel had repeatedly promised to prevent.

    As the protest grew into riots, live fire was used along with tear gas and other anti-riot means. The death toll reached 118 people, according to the Health Ministry of the Gaza, after a 23-year-old Gaza resident died.

    Israel has explained its actions citing security reasons, saying it is defending its borders and blames Hamas for encouraging thousands of Palestinians to break through the border and attack Israelis.

    Another large-scale demonstration is planned for June 5 when tens of thousands are called to march to mark the 51st anniversary of the Six-Day War.

    Related:

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    Situation in Gaza Likely to 'Drag' - International Progress Organization Head
    Hamas 'Responsible for the Miserable Situation in Gaza' – Israeli Policy Analyst
    Israeli Minister Seeks to Tighten Gaza Blockade as Tensions Flare - Reports
    Tags:
    Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Gaza clashes, Gaza protests, Great March of Return, Hamas, Israel Defense Forces (IDF), Palestinian Territories, Israel, Gaza Strip
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