UPDATE 2 – Gazans converge on Israel buffer zone for 33rd Friday

UPDATES CASUALTIES

By Nour Abu Aisha and Yaser Albanna

GAZA CITY, Palestine (AA) – For the 33rd consecutive Friday, thousands of Palestinian demonstrators converged on the Gaza-Israel buffer zone to take part in rallies 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 demonstrations.

In a separate statement, Hazem Qasim, a spokesman for Hamas (which has governed the Gaza Strip since 2007), said the Palestinian people "will continue their struggle — with the utmost will and determination — until the Israeli blockade on Gaza is lifted”.

According to Gaza’s Health Ministry, one protester was martyred and another 36 were injured on Friday by Israeli army gunfire.

In a statement, the ministry said that Rami Wael Kahman, 28, succumbed to wounds he sustained earlier today by Israeli fire in the eastern Gaza Strip.

The Palestinian youth was shot in the neck by Israeli forces in eastern Rafah city, the ministry said.

The ministry went on to report that several women and children were among those injured.

Protesters 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 two million inhabitants of many basic commodities.

Since the rallies began on March 30, more than 200 Palestinians have been martyred — and thousands more injured — by Israeli troops deployed along the other side of the buffer zone.

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