IDF concerned as Gazans establish tent cities on Israeli border
Gaza residents prepare for mass protests on Israeli border, setting up tent communities in protest demanding ‘Right of Return’.
Hundreds of tents are to be erected near the Gaza-Israel border for a six-week protest, officials said Thursday, in what may stir fresh tensions with Israeli forces.
Gaza families are to set up hundreds of tents — possibly thousands – for the protests running from March 30 to May 15, organizers said.
Protesters plan to call for the granting of a right of return for millions of so-called “Palestinian refugees” across the Middle East.
Organizers said the families could stay in the tents for prolonged periods, with youth and community activities planned.
The demonstration has the backing of all political factions in the Gaza Strip, including the terrorist group Hamas, which rules the Strip.
Israeli media said the army viewed the event as a potential security threat, while authorities were concerned over how to respond if violence erupted with women and children among the protesters.
The protests will coincide with Israel Independence Day – a date mourned by Palestinian Arab opponents of the Jewish state as the “Nakba”, or day of “Disaster”.
Hamas has denied it initiated the tent protest.
“This is a popular movement and has a peaceful, community-based nature supported by national and Islamic factions and resorted to after all other routes the Palestinians took did not bear fruit,” Bassem Naim, a top Hamas official, told AFP.
“We expect the occupation to suppress it but it carries all responsibility.”
According to a report by Yediot Aharonot, IDF officials are concerned that families could become involved in marches toward the border with Israel.
Army “officials are worried that any attempt to stop the people marching by force will severely damage Israel’s public image”, it said.
“Officials are also worried about possible civilian casualties and about the possibility that the protests along the fence might devolve into armed conflict.”