UPDATES INJURY TOLL
By Nour Abu Aisha and Qais Abu Samra
GAZA CITY/RAMALLAH, Palestine (AA) – For the 36th consecutive Friday, thousands of Palestinians converged on the Gaza-Israel buffer zone to take part in ongoing mass demonstrations against Israel’s decades-long occupation.
In a statement, Gaza’s National Authority for Breaking the Siege renewed its call to the people of Gaza to take part in the ongoing rallies.
Hamas spokesman Abdullatif al-Qanoua, for his part, said in a statement: “Palestinians are asking the world to translate this day of solidarity with our people into practical actions, like lifting the siege [on Gaza] and ending the [Israeli] occupation.”
Instituted by the UN in 1977, the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People is marked each year on Nov. 29.
Protesters in Gaza demand the right to return to their homes and villages in historical Palestine, from which they were driven in 1948 to make way for 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.
Since the rallies began on March 30, more than 210 Palestinians have been martyred — and thousands more injured — by Israeli troops deployed near the buffer zone.
According to Gaza's Health Ministry, 28 Palestinians were injured by Israeli army gunfire while taking part in Friday's demonstration.
In the Israeli-occupied West Bank, meanwhile, Israeli troops forcibly dispersed several Friday rallies, leaving five Palestinians injured by gunfire and dozens more suffering the effects of teargas, according to witnesses.
“Two Palestinians were hurt by heavy ammunition when Israeli troops broke up a protest march that began following Friday prayers,” Murad Ishteiwi, a popular resistance activist in the town of Kafr Qaddum (near the West Bank city of Nablus), said.
According to Ishteiwi, Israeli troops used both heavy ammunition and rubber bullets — in addition to teargas — to disperse Palestinian demonstrators, who responded by throwing stones.
And in the village of Al-Mughayyir east of Ramallah, at least three Palestinian demonstrators were injured by rubber bullets fired by Israeli troops, according to an Anadolu Agency correspondent based in the area.
The Israeli army also reportedly dispersed demonstrations in the West Bank towns of Nilin, Bilin and Ras Karkar.
Rallies are organized every Friday throughout the West Bank by popular resistance committees which demand an end to Israel’s policy of unbridled settlement construction on occupied Palestinian land.