Thousands of Palestinians are gathering on Saturday on the Israel-Gaza Strip border to mark the first anniversary of mass anti-Israel protests dubbed the Great March of Return, a Sputnik correspondent reported.
The Israeli military said that they had completed preparations for the Saturday large-scale rallies, reinforcing the border 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.
The Palestinians are heading to five camps, set up along the eastern frontiers of the Gaza Strip, at a safe distance from Israel. There will be meetings with speeches and music, and small groups of young protesters will probably go on raids to the border fence in order to clash with the Israeli military under the cover of smoke from burning tires.
"I came here to support our right to return to homes [located in the territory controlled by Israel now], which my grandfather and grandmother left in 1948," Shadia Jamali, who came to one of the camps, told Sputnik.
According to the local health authorities, medical teams are on duty in all five camps.
Local media reported that the leader of the Hamas movement ruling in the enclave, Ismail Haniya, accompanied by an Egyptian delegation, which mediates in the de-escalation between the Gaza Strip and Israel, came to one of the camps.
According to the Israel Defence Forces (IDF), about 30,000 Palestinians have already gathered in several locations along the border fence, but there are still no major clashes with the Israeli forces.
The majority of protesters are still far from the fence, while some of them are burning tires, throwing stones and homemade grenades.
The IDF said its servicemen respond with tear gas and shooting.