Local activists in Gaza announced April 29 that they have moved tents that were set up along the border with Israel as part of the "Great March of Return," relocating them 50 meters closer to the border fence. The committee in charge of the Great March said they had moved the "tents of return" closer to the border "as a message of persistence from our people to the world that we are moving forward towards our rightful goals." The tents were initially set up between 500-700 meters from the border line. The announcement came on the 20th day of protests since the Great March began in the besieged Gaza Strip, as hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees demanded their collective right of return to their homelands in present-day Israel. Since the massive popular demonstrations began, at least 36 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces. Among the dead were two minors and a journalist. (Ma'an)
The move comes amid near-daily violence along the Strip. Israeli forces shot and killed a Palestinian man on April 12 amid protests along the border of southern Gaza. (Ma’an) That same day, one Palestinian was killed and another injured as Israeli forces launched an air-strike targeting an alleged site of the Hamas movement's military wing in eastern Gaza City. (Ma’an) On April 14, four Palestinians were killed and others injured as Israeli artillery struck an auto-rickshaw in the city of Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip. (Ma’an)
Five Palestinians were injured after Israeli forces shelled areas in the eastern Khan Younis district in the southern Strip around dawn on April 18. The Gaza Ministry of Health said that several shells were fired toward a site belonging to the al-Quds Brigades, the military wing of the Islamic Jihad movement. (Ma'an)
And Israeli naval forces have reportedly barred Palestinian fishermen from sailing off the coast of the northern Gaza Strip in recent days, even firing on one boat April 14. (Ma’an)
Violence also continues at a lower level on the West Bank. Israeli settlers apparently set fire to a mosque in Aqraba village outisde Nablus on April 13. Local residents said that surveillance cameras showed two masked figures wearing backpacks entering the Sheikh Saadeh mosque at around 2 AM. The masked men poured flammable materials on the building's entrance and set it alight before fleeing the scene. Pictures of the aftermath showed fire and smoke damage to the front entrance of the mosque, as well as the words "death" and "price tag," which were spray-painted onto the outside walls. (Ma'an)
Israel: human rights don’t apply in Gaza protests
The protests by Palestinians on the Gaza border fall into the category of a state of war and thus human rights law does not apply to the rules of engagement, the state said in its response to a High Court petition filed by human rights groups. According to the response, the Israeli forces’ rules of engagement comply with both Israeli and international law. "The state opposes the applying of human rights law during an armed conflict," the state wrote. (Haaretz, May 3)
Did Hamas call for ceasefire?
With fear mounting of an explosion of violence along the Gaza Strip's border on Nakba Day, reports emerge that Hamas made back-channel offers of a ceasefire—to no response from the Netanyahu government. Haaretz cites sources to the effect that the Hamas leader in the Strip, Yahya Sinwar, is "prepared for a cease-fire with Israel." Haaretz days earlier reported that "Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip have recently conveyed messages to Israel indicating their willingness to negotiate a long term cease-fire in the enclave." Al Monitor notes that Hamas' military wing—the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades—tweeted a denial in Hebrew, saying, “Hamas denies reports of a long-term cease-fire with the Zionist occupation." Nonetheless, a Hamas source confirmed to Al-Monitor that such a proposal exists, similar to the one it had conveyed at the end of the 2014 Israel-Gaza war.