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Israel braces for amplified 'Naksa' protests Friday in Gaza

An Israeli soldier aims his gun at Palestinian protesters during a protest at the Gaza Strip's border with Israel, Friday, June 1, 2018.
AP Photo/Khalil Hamra
President Rouhani has called on Iranians to turn out for mass protests expected on Friday as part of Quds Day

Israel has been getting ready for another round of intensified demonstrations in the Gaza Strip on Friday, after Hamas decided to delay Tuesday’s Naksa (“setback” in Arabic) to the last Friday of the holy month of Ramadan, which coincides with Quds Day, a series of worldwide protests against Israel inspired by Iran.

Naksa marks the 1967 Six-Day War in which Israel captured swathes of land from Jordan and Egypt, including the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.

Ahead of Friday’s expected protests in Gaza, Israel’s Defense Forces (IDF) dropped leaflets across the Hamas-ruled enclave, warning the Palestinian residents of partaking in any destructive activities such as damaging the border fence and carrying out acts of terror.

MOHAMMED ABED (AFP)

At least 125 Palestinians have been killed since the “Great March of Return” demonstrations began on March 30, while no Israelis have died from the Gazan activity.

A senior Israeli military official said Thursday that only "30 to 40" of those Palestinians who died from Israeli fire along the Gaza border were deliberate, identified by IDF as terrorists with hostile intentions.

The protests have been somewhat tempered since Ramadan began, in comparison with those that culminated on May 14th’s Nakba Day, signifying the 700,000 Palestinians displaced during Israel’s 1948 Independence Day War.

Nevertheless, Gazans have launched mortar shells and rockets at Israel in previous weeks, in addition to flaming kites that Israel says damaged some 2,500 acres of agricultural land.

On Thursday, IDF showed off its use of mini-drones to counter the wave of kites, citing some 500 kites and balloons that had been successfully intercepted soldier operated drones.

Last month, Israel said it struck 65 “military targets” in Gaza in retaliation after roughly 100 projectiles were launched at Israel in three rounds of attacks.

A ceasefire took hold, but there have been some projectiles fired since the unofficial truce.

Demonstrations are accompanied by smaller clashes as youths hurl stones at Israeli soldiers and attempt to breach the border fence, at times laying explosive devices on the fence or throwing grenades.

SAID KHATIB (AFP)

Meanwhile, President Hassan Rouhani has called on all Iranians to turn out for mass protests expected on Friday as part of Quds Day, a reference to the Arabic term for Jerusalem, Al-Quds.

Rouhani's message said this year's events were "special" because of US President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and 2018 being "the 70th anniversary of the occupation of the Palestinian land" -- a reference to Israel's War of Independence.

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