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Israel readies extra troops, snipers and drones, for Palestinian ‘March of Return’

Palestinian winner Yousuf Ubeyd (C) receives his present at the end of a mass march that held for the "Great Return March" in Gaza City, Gaza on 24 March, 2018 [Mustafa Hassona/Anadolu Agency]
Palestinian winner Yousuf Ubeyd (C) receives his present at the end of a mass march that held for the "Great Return March" in Gaza City, Gaza on 24 March, 2018 [Mustafa Hassona/Anadolu Agency]

Israeli authorities are preparing extra troops, snipers and drones ahead of the Palestinians’ planned “March of Return”, a six-week long series of actions beginning this Friday with Land Day protests.

According to the Times of Israel, Israeli occupation forces are “gearing up” for protests expected to take place along the Gaza Strip’s perimeter fence, “putting additional units on alert out of concerns that large numbers of Palestinians might try to break through the barrier and rush into Israel”.

The majority of Palestinians in the occupied and blockaded Gaza Strip are from nearby communities ethnically cleansed by Israel in the 1948 Nakba.

Land Day, which takes place annually on 30 March, marks the Israeli government’s appropriation of land from Palestinian citizens in 1976, and the bloody repression of protests against the seizure. The March of Return initiative is intended to continue until 15 May, the 70th anniversary of the Nakba.

Citing a “military source”, the Times of Israel reported that in preparation for the expected protests, “additional army battalions, Border Police units, and dozens of snipers will be deployed along the Gaza border on Friday, in order to keep demonstrators from crossing”.

Read: PLC holds session near Gaza-Israel border in preparation for Land Day

In addition, “police officers will be stationed a bit farther back, in order to keep back any Palestinians who breach the first line of defence”, while “additional teams of IDF soldiers will also patrol the Israeli communities closest to the border”.

Israeli forces are also likely to “deploy drones that can drop tear gas on protesters on the Gaza side of the border, a technique that the Border Police tested earlier this month.”

In regular protests since December, Israeli occupation forces have used lethal violence against Palestinian demonstrators, killing a number of unarmed protesters and injuring hundreds more.

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