GAZA 28 (Sputnik) - The organisers of the Palestinian protests dubbed the Great March of Return announced on 28 March that they plan to mark the first anniversary of regular anti-Israeli protests along the borders of the Gaza Strip on March 30 with large-scale rallies.
"We call on Palestinians to take part in the rally of millions on 30 March — the first anniversary of the Great March of Return", the rallies' organising committee said in a statement.
Earlier, the organisers of the event were considering the possibility of setting the rally for Friday.
Fearing that the event will grow into large-scale unrest, the Israelis deployed large forces to the enclave and expressed their readiness for decisive actions.
The Israeli military reported that they had completed preparations for the Saturday events, reinforcing the southern district with three additional infantry brigades, divisional headquarters and an artillery unit. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited troops concentrated around the Gaza Strip on Thursday. At the end of the trip, he assured that he would not hesitate to launch a large-scale military campaign if other means did not work.
The protests have been ongoing since 30 March last year. Each week, at least thousands of people from the enclave gather at the border of the Gaza Strip and the tensions often escalate into clashes with Israeli troops. According to the organizers, over 250 Palestinian protesters were killed in clashes during the year, about 20,000 were injured, more than 15,000 of them were hospitalised. On March 30, Palestinians celebrate Earth Day in memory of the six Arabs who were killed in 1976 during protests against the expropriation of land by the Israelis.
In addition to the upcoming anniversary of the protests, tensions escalated recently after Palestinian militants fired a rocket at the densely populated centre of Israel, which responded by bombing dozens of objects in the Gaza Strip. The armed confrontation lasted from 25 March through 27 March morning.
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