Thousands of Gaza residents gathered at the border of Israel for annual Nakba Day protests, sparking clashes with Israeli security forces.
Nakba, or Catastrophe Day, is Palestinians’ yearly commemoration of Israel’s independence, celebrated every year on the day after the Gregorian date of Israel’s creation.
According to the IDF Spokespersons Unit, around 10,000 Palestinians in several locations along the fence burned tires and threw stones and explosive devices toward troops. In addition, a number of attempts by Gazans to approach the security fence were identified by troops, who used crowd control measures against the rioters. Media sources also reported the IDF firing live bullets, tear gas and skunk spray at protesters trying to damage the border fence with Israel.
In all, some sixty-five Palestinians were injured. From that number, 22 were identified as minors and five were women. While most injuries were caused by rubber bullets and exposure to tear gas, over two dozen Palestinians were wounded by live Israeli fire, a measure IDF personnel resort to only under extreme circumstances. Additionally, nine fires have broken out in the Gaza border region as the result of incendiary balloons launched from Gaza. According to Eli Cohen, the firefighter spokesperson, some of the fires were quite large, and one was burning in the middle of a forest, but all were put out by Fire and Rescue Service personnel.
The events on the border are highly reminiscent of the Land Day protests of last year, organized by the Hamas authorities in March. The encouragement of Gaza’s Hamas overlords spurred countless clashes with Israeli soldiers over nearly six weeks of constant protests, resulting in dozens of deaths and even more injuries. This time around, Hamas is reportedly deploying their own agents to create a buffer between protesters and the border, an attempt to maintain the delicate ceasefire following recent flare-ups.