Tens of thousands of Palestinian protesters have started heading to the fence separating the besieged Gaza Strip from the occupied territories as protests reach a climax despite Israeli threats.
The Israeli army is expecting about 100,000 demonstrators to gather at three main locations on Monday, coinciding with a gala in the afternoon to officially relocate US embassy to Jerusalem al-Quds.
On Sunday, the Israeli air force dropped leaflets over the Gaza Strip warning Palestinians not to approach the fence and threatening to target Hamas facilities in the besieged territory if protesters breach the barrier.
The rallies known as the “Great March of Return” began on March 30 and are due to climax on Monday and Tuesday, coinciding with the 70th anniversary of Nakba Day (Day of Catastrophe) when Israel was created.
Every year on May 15, Palestinians all over the world hold demonstrations to commemorate the day, which marks the anniversary of the forcible Israeli eviction of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homeland in 1948.
The protests on Monday will take place despite Israeli threats to use live fire against the protesters. The Israeli army has ordered its soldiers to prevent protesters from crossing into Israel at any price.
The daily Haaretz quoted a senior Israeli officer in the Southern Command as predicting that Monday’s protests would be much more violent than those of the previous seven weeks as it coincides with the US embassy relocation.
Israel has doubled the number of forces around the Gaza Strip and in occupied West Bank territories ahead of the controversial embassy opening. On Sunday, the regime deployed 11 battalions along the Gaza fence, including special forces, intelligence units and snipers.
Additional combat battalions and intelligence units are to be deployed to the West Bank, the Israeli daily reported.
More than 1,000 Israeli settlers stormed the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the Old City of East Jerusalem al-Quds on Sunday, in a provocative act ahead of the US embassy opening.
The occupied territories have witnessed new tensions ever since President Donald Trump announced on December 6 US recognition of Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s so-called capital.
The dramatic decision triggered demonstrations in the occupied Palestinian territories as well as Iran, Turkey, Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia, Algeria, Iraq, Morocco and other Muslim countries.
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