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Protests in Gaza against Israeli blockade

Over the past weeks, protests have been taking place along the border between Gaza and Israel. On the 21st of August, hundreds of Palestinians gathered along the Israeli fence at the border to protest. More than 40 Palestinians were wounded and one died because of a shot wound. An Israeli soldier also got shot and died from his wounds a week later. Protests continued to take place in the following weeks and on the 2nd of September another Palestinian protester got shot and killed. The protest are organized by Hamas in an attempt to put pressure on Israel to ease the blockade on the Gaza strip. The anti-blockade protests come three months after an informal truce was established that ended 11 days of conflict between Hamas and Israel that killed 256 Palestinians and 13 Israeli’s.

The blockade           

The blockade of the Gaza strip has been put in place by the Israeli government since June 2007. Following Hamas’ electoral win in 2006, and consequent rise to power, the Gaza strip has been subject to a land, sea and air blockade. With Israel keeping the borders shut, Palestinians living in Gaza have seen their economic and humanitarian situation deteriorate. The blockade has led to rising unemployment, as well as shortages in basic items such as fuel and food. Furthermore, due to the land blockade, many Palestinians are not able to study, work or visit hospitals outside of Gaza.

During the most recent conflict in May, Israel strengthened its control over the blockade. One of the measures that the Israeli government took was that it has suspended the provision of financial aid that around 100,000 families in Palestine receive every month from Qatar. Furthermore, Israel also closed off important crossing points and prevented goods and materials to enter Gaza. In late July it was reported that Hamas threatened to escalate the rising tensions if the provision of Qatari aid was not restored.

Israeli response        

In response to the continuing protest, Israel stated that it would allow more goods and equipment to enter Gaza. Furthermore, it reached an agreement about resuming financial aid from Qatar. As protest continued, Israel announced on the 1st of September that it would expand access to the Gaza fishing zone as a gesture of goodwill since fishing has been an important source of revenue in Gaza. Previously, Israel had been limiting how far Gazan fishermen are allowed to go offshore as a means to put pressure on Hamas. However, tensions have remained high regardless of the easing of certain restrictions. Hamas has continued to launch incendiary balloons which led to wildfires in the South of Israel. As a response, Israel has been launching airstrikes on Gaza.

Sources: Al Jazeera Al Jazeera Al Jazeera Al-Monitor Al Monitor Al Monitor

Photo source: Flickr