Palestinians participated in a “day of rage” in Gaza and the West Bank on Wednesday in protest of Israel’s planned annexation of parts of the West Bank.
Hamas and other Palestinian factions had called for demonstrations Wednesday in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem in response to the anticipated announcement on Wednesday of an Israeli plan to apply its sovereignty to settlements.
No such announcement was made by Israel on Wednesday, and the Palestinian protests remained largely peaceful.
Prime Benjamin Netanyahu had set July 1 as the date when his coalition government can begin implementing US President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace plan, which would result in the annexation of all settlements and the Jordan Valley, which constitute about 30 percent of the West Bank.
“The resistance will topple our enemy’s ploy to divide our homeland,” Hamas spokesperson Hazim Qasim said in a statement preceding the protests.
Unlike the Great March of Return protests in 2019, Wednesday’s protests in Gaza did not direct demonstrators towards the border fence with Israel or seek conflict with Israeli forces.
Protesters congregated, instead, in Gaza City, where activists gave speeches and led the assembled crowd of thousands in a “national oath” to the “blood of the martyrs.”
“The occupation has killed us and killed our children and deprived us of a good life. May God grant the Resistance victory,” a protester told Hamas-run al-Aqsa TV.
Some demonstrators in Gaza City carried signs in English saying: “We Can’t Breathe Since 1948” and “Palestinian Lives Matter,” both of which reference the American Black Lives Matter movement. Others waved Palestinian flags and placards calling annexation a “violation of international law.”
Several sources on social media reported rocket fire from Gaza towards the sea last night as part of a “trial run.” Sources in the Gaza-based terror group Hamas told AFP that the organization was responsible for the rockets, although the IDF says that it did not detect any such missile salvo.
West Bank protests were far more limited in number, perhaps due to the extent of the coronavirus outbreak and attendant lockdowns. On Wednesday, 280 new cases of the novel coronavirus were detected across the West Bank.
At least 100 Palestinians protested in al-Manara square in downtown Ramallah, far fewer than the thousands who turned out over the past week in the Jordan Valley at official Fatah rallies. Several dozen demonstrators also gathered in the West Bank city of Bethlehem.