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A new policy to face Great Return marches

Thousands of Gazans attend funeral of Palestinian journalist Ahmed Abu Hussein [Mohamed Asad/Middle East Monitor]
Thousands of Gazans attend funeral of Palestinian journalist Ahmed Abu Hussein, who was shot by Israeli snipers while covering mass protests near Gaza’s eastern border [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]

For five weeks Israel has failed to stop the Great Return marches. This is because Israel never expected the marches to be like this. Israel had counted on the marches withering due to insufficient participation. Yet instead the numbers on the march swelled as Israel looked on, perplexed.

However, these marches only grew in numbers and participants and their boldness and fearlessness seemed quite clear, especially last Friday, when the masses managed to breach the barbed wire, despite the presence of snipers. Furthermore, the regular presence of political leaders from various factions in these marches has been an important for their continuation and shows a clear response to Israel's propaganda, which claims that these marches send children to die on the borders to serve personal or partisan interests.

It seems by now that Israel has not actually succeeded in stopping the return marches by means of the media and propaganda. Its methods have included officials' social media posts. Therefore, the occupation resorted to using a new way to stop these marches by means of targeting several sites and targets in the Gaza Strip. This was mentioned by Israeli writer Matan Tzuri in an article published by Israel's Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper where he said the army has decided to follow a new policy in dealing with the increasingly violent marches on the border of Gaza Strip."

Read: Israel refuses to disclose open-fire policy for Gaza

It is clear that this stage is short-lived and Israel does not want a military escalation to occur, and therefore it has and will continue to target abandoned areas and empty sites and will not resort to targeting a particular person for fear of escalation. Israel intended this stage to be a pre-emptive measure in anticipation of the anniversary of the Nakba, as Israel fears its consequences. As for the resistance factions, it will not be forced into retaliation, as that will have a negative affect on something that is more important. Instead, it will focus all of its efforts on rallying the masses to commemorate the Nakba.

After the Israeli security establishment sent a message to Hamas, it accused the movement of organising and leading these marches, saying that if the demonstrations did not stop, the military assessed the march held on the fifth consecutive Friday, and bombed a number of sites in the Gaza Strip. This was used as a new card to play in order to deter the protestors and get revenge against them. This is because the future for Israel, especially the anniversary of the Nakba, will be harder and more dangerous, as it does not want to see a breach of the border wire and a confrontation that Israel will pay the price for on the ground as well as politically, as the international community will frown upon this.

This article first appeared in Arabic in the Palestinian Information Centre on 1 May 2018

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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