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Nighttime rioters plan return to Gaza border; 13-year-old dies week after clash

Palestinian ‘night confusion units’ will head to the barrier with Israel on Saturday night, despite Israel’s decision to ease some restrictions on the enclave

Palestinian protesters from a group calling themselves the "Night Confusion Units" gather near the Gaza-Israel border east of al-Bureij camp in the central Gaza Strip on August 16, 2020.(Photo by MAHMUD HAMS / AFP)
Palestinian protesters from a group calling themselves the "Night Confusion Units" gather near the Gaza-Israel border east of al-Bureij camp in the central Gaza Strip on August 16, 2020.(Photo by MAHMUD HAMS / AFP)

Rioting was planned to take place along the Gaza Strip’s border with Israel on Saturday night, with the so-called “night confusion units” vowing to resume their activities along the barrier at around 8 p.m. near Gaza city.

In the past, Gazans involved in such activities have burned tires, hurled explosive devices, and played fake rocket alert noises in an attempt to confuse Israeli residents living near the border and harass soldiers guarding the border.

The “confusion units” do not officially tie themselves to Hamas, though their activities could not take place without the approval of the terror group that rules the Strip.

The move comes despite Israel on Thursday easing some of its restrictions on trade and movement, allowing additional goods and materials to enter Gaza. It also allowed another 1,000 Gazan businessmen to leave through the Erez Crossing with Israel to travel to the West Bank.

Gaza has seen two border protests in the past week — a major violent rally last Saturday and a second, relatively calmer one on Wednesday.

On Saturday the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry announced that a 13-year-old boy who was critically injured in last Saturday’s clashes with Israeli soldiers has succumbed to his wounds.

Omar Abu Nil, a resident of Gaza City’s Al-Tuffah neighborhood, was shot in the head by Israeli fire, according to Hamas health officials. Abu Nil was treated for a week in a Gaza hospital before passing away.

Abu Nil was allegedly shot by Israeli forces during the violent protest that saw hundreds of Palestinian protesters approach the fence, throw stones and burn tires. Israeli troops responded with tear gas, rubber bullets, and a form of live fire.

Besides Abu Nil, one other Palestinian and one Israeli police officer were critically wounded during the clashes. The other Palestinian, Osama Dueij, passed away on Thursday; Hamas claimed Dueij as a member of its armed wing.

The Israeli police officer, Barel Shmueli, 21, remains in serious condition in Soroka Hospital in Beersheba. Shmueli was shot at point-blank range when a Palestinian man approached a slit in a barrier where Shmueli was stationed and fired a pistol at him.

Gazans held another border protest last Wednesday as part of a series of activities to pressure Israel into lifting restrictions on the tightly blockaded enclave. The Israeli military geared up for a serious confrontation along the border, but the protest passed without any deaths or serious injuries on either side.

Israel and Egypt have blockaded Gaza for over a decade, saying the restrictions are necessary to prevent Hamas from arming itself and presenting an even greater threat.

Since May’s 11-day battle between Israel and Hamas, Israel has imposed even tighter restrictions on goods entering and leaving the Strip. It has also blocked Qatari subsidies from entering Gaza, a key element of the status quo ante. The two sides are still conducting indirect negotiations to reach new understandings.

But Israeli officials have vowed that there will be no significant reconstruction of Gaza — which sustained heavy damage during the recent escalation — without a prisoner exchange deal between the two sides. Hamas currently holds captive two Israeli civilians, Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed, as well as the bodies of two Israeli soldiers, Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul.

The past few weeks have seen apparent progress in some aspects of the talks. Earlier this month, Israel, Qatar and the United Nations agreed on a new mechanism to transfer Qatari cash into Gaza. Israel also reduced some restrictions, allowing some cement, cars and computers to enter, and for around 1,250 Gazan businessmen to leave.

A deal between the two sides for a more comprehensive ceasefire, however, has yet to materialize.

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