Violence in Gaza as Israeli Army Wounds Dozens of Protesters, Gaza Rockets Hit Israel
Hours after the Israeli army wounded scores of Palestinian border demonstrators in the Gaza Strip, projectiles from Gaza were fired into nearby southern Israeli towns.
On Friday afternoon approximately 100 Palestinian border demonstrators in Gaza were wounded by live Israeli ammunition, rubber-coated metal bullets and tear gas canisters at five border locations in the eastern Gaza Strip, according to the official Arabic-language Palestinian News Agency (WAFA.
More than 50 protesters were treated at local hospitals for injuries sustained from the live ammunition after the Israeli army opened fire on thousands of protesters during the 81st weekly protest since the launch of the Great March of Return in March of 2018.
Border protests across the tiny coastal enclave, which is ruled by the Islamist Hamas party, have become a weekly practice for tens of thousands of Gaza residents. Demonstrators assert the Palestinian people’s right of return to historical Palestine and demand the lifting of a 12-year-long Israeli blockade of the Gaza territory.
According to the Gaza-based Palestinian Health Ministry, the Israeli army has killed over 350 Palestinian border demonstrators and wounded about 30,000 others, since the Great March of Return’s launch in 2018.
Gaza Rocket Fire
Israeli media sources confirmed that later on Friday in the evening several local Palestinian rockets were fired into nearby Israeli areas, including the adjacent Sderot town. The Jerusalem Post reported (JPost) that the Israeli defense system, known as the Iron Dome, intercepted at least seven rockets that fell on Sderot and other areas.
An Israeli elderly woman in her sixties was injured and transferred to a local hospital for treatment, while a number of local Israeli residents were treated for shock, added the JPost.
Meanwhile, the Israeli online website Ynet reported that several cars with shattered windscreens were seen in the town of Sderot, but no significant injuries were reported.
“When we got to the street there was a lot of hustle and bustle, there were several cars with shattered windscreens,” Israeli paramedic Alex Kusinov, who was called to a home hit by the rockets, told Ynet.
The current wave of violence in the Gaza Strip came less than 24 hours after the Israeli army’s artillery struck a border watch outpost that belongs to the ruling Hamas party in northeastern Gaza. Israeli army sources said on Thursday that the artillery fire on the Hamas post was in response to a rocket that was fired from Gaza into a nearby Israeli area.
No Palestinian armed resistance group in Gaza has claimed responsibility for the latest rocket fire into Israel.
Ynet reported on Friday that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who also serves as Israel’s Defense Minister, met with top security and military officials in order to weigh an Israeli retaliation to the present escalation.
Israel held the Islamist ruling Hamas party, which does not recognize Israel, as responsible for the rocket fire from Gaza.
For the past month, the region has been relatively quiet and seen a lull in violence, except this past Tuesday when the Israeli army knocked down a small locally-produced drone that hovered over Gaza.
Palestine Ready for Elections
The outburst of violence comes only a few days after the ruling Hamas party expressed a readiness to hold Palestinian elections. The western-backed Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, of the rival Fatah party, had earlier called for such elections in a bid to end a 12-year-long political split with the Islamist Hamas.
“Hamas is ready for a partnership and alliance with all those who agree and meet with it in the face of the Israeli occupation and the advancement of our Palestinian national project,” Hamas’ spokesman Abdel Latif Al-Qanu said.
One year after Hamas won 70 percent of the seats in the Palestinian parliament seats during the 2006 elections, Hamas took over Gaza and ousted the rival Fatah party from the coastal region.
The two major Palestinian parties have signed several reconciliation deals, the latest of which was on October 2017 in Cairo. Yet, none of the deals have been realized on the ground.
With both parties at odds, Israel declared Gaza a “hostile entity” and has imposed a blockade on Gaza since 2007. Israel has also carried out a series of major military attacks on the two million residents of Gaza, under the pretext of stopping rocket fire from Gaza into nearby Israeli towns.