Palestinians in Gaza resume nighttime border protests

Images posted on social media show demonstrators setting off small explosions, lighting tires on fire and pointing lasers at Israeli security forces

Adam Rasgon is the Palestinian affairs reporter at The Times of Israel

A masked Palestinian pulls a burning tire during a night demonstration near the fence along the border with Israel, east of Gaza City, on February 11, 2019. (Mahmud Hams/AFP)
A masked Palestinian pulls a burning tire during a night demonstration near the fence along the border with Israel, east of Gaza City, on February 11, 2019. (Mahmud Hams/AFP)

Palestinians in the Gaza Strip resumed nighttime protests along the border between Israel and the coastal enclave on Monday, a week after halting them.

Pictures and videos posted on Twitter show Palestinians in several locations in the border area, setting off small explosions, lighting tires on fire, and pointing lasers at Israeli security forces.

The loud sounds created by the explosions at previous night time protests have caused significant distress for some Israelis living adjacent to Gaza.

Some 600 Palestinians participating in the night time protests on Monday largely remained several hundreds of meters away from the border fence, an IDF spokesman said.

At past evening protests, many Palestinians, mainly youth, have approached the fence and clashed with security forces. In some instances, they have thrown firebombs and rocks at troops.

Security forces detained and subsequently questioned four Palestinians on Monday, who crossed the border, the army spokesman said.

Last week, the committee organizing the night time protests decided to halt them to give Egyptian mediators an opportunity “to pressure the Israeli occupation to implement” ceasefire understandings between the Jewish state and the Hamas terror group, al-Araby al-Jadeed reported on March 10.

Israel and Hamas reached a series of loose agreements last summer through intermediaries, including Egypt, to provide Gaza with economic incentives in exchange for relative calm along the border.

But Hamas officials have accused Israel of dragging its feet in implementing its side of the agreements.

An Egyptian security delegation met with both Israeli and Hamas officials last week to discuss the status of the understandings.

The committee organizing the evening protests has said they seek to compel Israel to lighten its restrictions on the movement of people and goods into and out Gaza, just as the border demonstrations every Friday since March 30, 2018, which have included many violent acts, do.

Israeli officials hold that restrictions on movement aim to prevent Hamas from transferring weapons into Gaza.

Dozens of Palestinians in the coastal enclave have also recently demonstrated against the high cost of living and taxes. Hamas security forces have cracked down on them, beating and arresting them and journalists.

Videos posted on Twitter and Facebook have shown Hamas security using batons to forcefully strike demonstrators.

Rights groups and United Nations coordinator to the Middle East peace process Nikolay Mladenov have condemned Hamas for its violent suppression of the demonstrations.

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