Today, tens of thousands of Palestinians will mark the first anniversary of the “Great March of Return” protests, denouncing Israel’s
Today, tens of thousands of Palestinians will mark the first anniversary of the “Great March of Return” protests, denouncing Israel’s blockade of the enclave.
A year ago, the weekly protests began in opposition to Israel’s blockade and its refusal to grant Palestinians the territory that they occupied in 1948. At the climax of demonstrations last May, following the US embassy’s move to Jerusalem, 62 protestors died.
Israel says the 13-year-long blockade stopped Gaza’s Hamas government from importing weapons. However, the blockade has seen Gaza’s two million inhabitants suffer from electricity and water shortages. To compensate, Hamas increased taxes on imported products in 2016, which led the price of tomatoes, a dietary staple, to triple. Additionally, Gaza’s unemployment rate is above 50%, with youth unemployment at 70%.
If the protest’s numbers are large enough to storm the Israeli-Palestinian barrier today, Israeli soldiers will likely turn to snipers in response, as they have previously. The Human Rights’ Council, which the US has recognised as anti-Semitic, considers Israel’s previous such responses criminal.
Expect the anniversary to escalate tensions, possibly to a tipping point. If Israel again resorts to violence, global attention will likely be drawn to the Palestinians’ plight.
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