Gaza: a year of deadly tensions

Gaza City: New tensions between Israel and Palestinian militants Hamas come days before the first anniversary of the start of massive protests and clashes in the Gaza Strip.

Since March 30 last year at least 258 Palestinians have been killed in the violence, along with two Israeli soldiers.

The clashes have sparked some of the worst escalations since Israel and Hamas fought their last war in 2014.

Here is a recap:

– First deadly day –

A mass protest on March 30, 2018 demands the right for Palestinians to return to homes, now inside Israel, that they fled or were expelled from during the birth of the Jewish state in the late 1940s.

Tens of thousands of Palestinians converge along the barrier that separates Gaza from Israel.

Officially organised by civil society groups, the rally is backed by Islamist militant movement Hamas, which runs Israeli-blockaded Gaza.

Several groups of protesters face off with Israeli soldiers, throwing stones and Molotov cocktails.

Israeli snipers respond with live fire, killing 19 Palestinians.

– Kites on fire –

On April 6 thousands of Palestinians gather again near the barrier. Nine Palestinians are killed and nearly 500 injured.

Four days later the Palestinians employ a new tactic, sending kites across the border, some carrying explosive devices, to set fire to farmland.

Similar kites and balloons have since torched thousands of hectares (acres) of land.

– Bloodbath –

On May 14 tens of thousands of Palestinians return to the barrier to protest as the US opens its embassy in Jerusalem after recognising the disputed city as Israel’s capital.

At least 62 Palestinians are killed by Israeli fire in the ensuing violence, with more than 2,400 wounded.

On June 13 the United Nations General Assembly adopts a resolution, opposed by Washington, condemning Israel over the violence.

– Summer of violence –

On July 14, Israel unleashes dozens of air strikes, killing two Palestinians, while 200 rockets target Israel.

Overnight August 8-9, Hamas fires some 180 rockets and mortars from Gaza, according to the Israeli army, which says it responded by targeting 150 of the movement’s military sites.

After a brief respite, 10 Palestinians are killed in clashes with the Israeli army during demonstrations on September 28 and October 5.

– Aid from Qatar –

On November 9-10, with mediation efforts underway, Palestinian civil servants in Gaza receive millions of dollars in salary arrears, funded by Qatar.

Since then, four instalments of Qatari aid have been distributed to Palestinians in Gaza. Under UN auspices, Qatar has also financed deliveries of fuel to the territory’s only power plant.

– Escalation –

On November 11 an Israeli military operation in the Gaza Strip leaves seven Palestinians and one Israeli soldier dead.

Hamas the next day attacks an Israeli bus, severely wounding a soldier.

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It is the beginning of one of the worst escalations in years, with hundreds of rockets and mortars fired at Israel and dozens of Israeli strikes against Gaza positions.

Seven Palestinians are killed.

On November 13 an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire is agreed. Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman responds the next day by resigning, saying Israel is “capitulating to terror”.

On November 21 four Palestinians are killed by Israeli soldiers.

– Possible ‘war crimes’ –

On February 28, 2019 a UN probe says Israel may have committed “war crimes or crimes against humanity” in responding to unrest in Gaza, as snipers “intentionally” shot civilians, including children.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejects the report.

– Rockets and strikes –

On March 15 Israeli aircraft and helicopters strike Hamas targets in Gaza after rockets are fired from the enclave towards the region of Tel Aviv. Israeli media report the rockets were fired by mistake.

On March 25 a rare rocket hits north of Tel Aviv, wounding seven people. Netanyahu cuts short his US visit, vowing to respond with force. Israel accuses Hamas of firing the rocket, which it denies.

Israel keeps up air strikes on Gaza and Palestinian militants launch new rockets despite what Hamas reports as an Egypt-brokered ceasefire, unconfirmed by Israel.

Overnight March 26-27 new rockets are fired from Gaza in the direction of Israel, provoking the Israeli military to hit back with a fresh series of air strikes across the enclave.

[source_without_link]Agence France-Presse[/source_without_link]