TEHRAN (defapress) – Four Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire, one during a demonstration ahead of the main rally and three 17-year-olds in clashes later Saturday, a report said.
News ID: 76511
Publish Date: 31March 2019 - 12:17
According to the health ministry in Gaza another 316 Gazans were wounded in the clashes on Saturday, which marked the first anniversary of the Great March of Return.
Tens of thousands of Gazans earlier gathered at the Israeli border to mark the occasions and clashes erupted there, but fears of mass bloodshed were averted after late Egyptian-led negotiations.
Israel deployed several thousand troops along the border, with the anniversary coming at a sensitive time ahead of its April 9 elections.
Egypt tried to mediate between Israel and Hamas to rein in violence.
Hamas officials say an understanding was reached that would see Israel ease its blockade of Gaza in exchange for the protests remaining calm.
Tens of thousands gathered at five protest points along the frontier but the vast majority stayed away from the border fence.
An Egyptian security delegation visited the protest site east of Gaza City, as did Hamas leaders Ismail Haniya and Yahya Sinwar.
Israel's army said around 40,000 "rioters and demonstrators" had gathered in spots throughout the border.
At least 50 Palestinian children have been killed by Israel in Gaza since the protests began, charity Save the Children said.
In the run-up to the anniversary, long-time mediator Egypt had shuttled back and forth in a bid to avoid major bloodshed.
Senior Hamas official Bassem Naim called Saturday's protest "a very important message" that thousands had gathered "peacefully to raise their voice against aggression and the imposed siege on Gaza".
He confirmed that Egypt had made progress towards a deal that media reports said would see Israel allow more Qatari aid into the strip and ease some restrictions.
In exchange, Hamas would maintain calm at the border protests.
Khalil al-Hayya, another senior figure of Hamas, said they were expecting to receive a timetable from Israel on Sunday. There was no Israeli comment on the alleged agreement.
Israel goes to the polls in a keenly contested general election on April 9 in which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faces a stiff challenge from centrist former military chief Benny Gantz.
The anniversary came only days after another severe flare-up between Israel and Hamas, sparked by a rare long-range rocket strike from Gaza that struck north of Tel Aviv. An Egyptian-brokered ceasefire restored calm.
The “Great March of Return” protests demand the right to return for those driven out of their homeland by Israeli aggression. They started on March 30 last year. Tensions have since been running high on the edge of Gaza.