Palestinians have called off their weekly peaceful protests along the Gaza-Israel fence, the Higher National Commission for the March of Return and Breaking the Siege announced today.
“The national authority for the March of Return has called for the postponement of the marches on an exceptional basis today,” the agency said in a brief statement.
The commission said this was an effort to maintain calm in the Strip and prevent escalations after Israeli occupation forces bombed 100 sites in the besieged enclave overnight injuring four Palestinians.
It added that this was also in preparation for a larger protest which is due to be held on 30 March, one year after the Great March of Return first launched.
This is the first time the marches have been stopped since they launched 51 weeks ago.
Since Palestinians in Gaza began holding the rallies in March last year, more than 250 protesters have been killed — and thousands more injured — by Israeli army gunfire.
Demonstrators demand the right of Palestinian refugees to return to the homes from which they were driven out of in 1948 to make way for the creation of the new state of Israel.
They also demand an end to Israel’s 12-year blockade of the Gaza Strip, which has gutted the coastal enclave’s economy and deprived its roughly two million inhabitants of many basic commodities.
Note: The headline for this article was updated at 14:13 GMT on March 16, 2019. The previous headline was “Gaza calls off Great March of Return”.