Since Friday morning, thousands of Palestinians have converged on the Gaza Strip’s eastern border with Israel to take part in ongoing anti-occupation demonstrations.
Palestinian activists have dubbed today's rallies “the Friday of Rubber Tires”, with protesters setting hundreds of car tires alight along the eastern border.
A tried-and-true resistance tactic from the Intifada era, burning rubber tires causes heavy black smoke said to obscure the view of Israeli snipers.
Since the rallies kicked off one week ago, at least 21 Gazans have been killed -- and more than 1,500 injured -- by cross-border Israeli army gunfire, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.
“The masses of our people arrayed along the border will resist plans to terminate the Palestinian cause,” Hazem Qassem, a spokesman for Hamas (which has governed the Gaza Strip since 2007), told sources on Friday.
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“We will remain steadfast in our demand for a free and dignified life,” he said.
Qassem added: “We are determined to continue our ‘Great Return March’ and break the years-long siege of Gaza.”
The border rallies, which began last Friday, kicked off a six-week demonstration set to culminate on May 15. That day will mark the 70th anniversary of Israel's establishment -- an event Palestinians refer to as the "Nakba" or "Catastrophe".
Demonstrators demand that Palestinian refugees be granted the “right of return” to their towns and villages in historical Palestine, from which they were driven in 1948 to make way for the new state of Israel.
Israel, for its part, has deployed thousands of troops along the fraught border, vowing to use deadly force against anyone who threatens “Israeli security infrastructure”.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
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