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Sunday, 15 September 2019

Gaza: a year of deadly tensions

AFP , Monday 25 Mar 2019
Gaza Strip
File Photo: Palestinians run for cover from Israeli gunfire and tear gas during a protest at the Israel-Gaza border fence, in the southern Gaza Strip January 11, 2019 (Photo: Reuters)
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New tensions between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas come days before the first anniversary of the start of massive protests and clashes in the Gaza Strip.

Since March 30 last year at least 258 Palestinians have been killed in the violence, along with two Israeli soldiers.

Here is a recap:

First deadly day 

A mass protest on March 30, 2018 demands the right for Palestinians to return to homes, now inside Israel, that they fled or were expelled from in the late 1940s, while Israel was created.

Tens of thousands of Palestinians converge along the barrier that separates Gaza from Israel.

Officially organised by civil society groups, the rally is backed by Islamist militant movement Hamas which runs Israeli-blockaded Gaza.

Several groups of protesters face off with Israeli soldiers, throwing stones and Molotov cocktails.

Israeli snipers respond with live fire, killing 19 Palestinians.

Kites on fire 

On April 6 thousands of Palestinians gather again near the barrier. Nine Palestinians are killed and nearly 500 injured.

Four days later the Palestinians employ a new tactic, sending kites across the border, some carrying explosive devices, to set fire to farmland.

Similar kites and balloons have since torched thousands of hectares (acres) of land.

Bloodbath

On May 14 tens of thousands of Palestinians return to the barrier to protest as the US opens its embassy in Jerusalem after recognising the disputed city as Israel's capital.

At least 62 Palestinians are killed by Israeli fire in the ensuing violence, with more than 2,400 wounded.

On June 13 the United Nations General Assembly adopts a resolution, opposed by Washington, condemning Israel for the violence.

Summer of violence

On July 14 Israel unleashes dozens of air strikes, killing two Palestinians, while 200 rockets target Israel.

Overnight August 8-9 Hamas fires some 180 rockets and mortars from Gaza, according to the Israeli army, which says it responded by targeting 150 of the movement's military sites.

After a brief respite, 10 Palestinians are killed in clashes with the Israeli army during demonstrations on September 28 and October 5.

Aid from Qatar

On November 9-10, as mediation efforts progress, Palestinian civil servants in Gaza receive millions of dollars in salary arrears, funded by Qatar.

Since then four instalments of Qatari aid have been distributed to Palestinians in Gaza. Under UN auspices, Qatar has also financed deliveries of fuel to the territory's only power plant.

Escalation

On November 11 an Israeli military operation in the Gaza Strip leaves seven Palestinians and one Israeli soldier dead.

Hamas the next day attacks an Israeli bus, severely wounding a soldier.

It is the beginning of one of the worst escalations in years, with hundreds of rockets and mortars fired at Israel and dozens of Israeli strikes against Gaza positions.

Seven Palestinians are killed.

On November 13 an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire is agreed. A day later Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman resigns, saying Israel is "capitulating to terror".

On November 21 four Palestinians are killed by Israeli soldiers.

UN probe

On February 28, 2019 a UN probe says Israel may have committed "war crimes or crimes against humanity" in responding to unrest in Gaza, as snipers "intentionally" shot civilians, including children.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejects the report.

Rockets and strikes

Overnight March 15 Israeli aircraft and helicopters strike dozens of Hamas targets in Gaza after rockets are fired from enclave towards the region of Tel Aviv. Israeli media report that the rockets were fired by mistake.

On March 25 a rare rocket hits north of Tel Aviv, wounding seven people. Netanyahu cuts short his US visit, vowing "we will respond with force". The Israel army accuses Hamas of firing the rocket and says it is sending reinforcements to Gaza.

*This story was edited by Ahram Online. 

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