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Israel deploys '100 sharpshooters' on Gaza border ahead of mass Palestinian protests Open in fullscreen

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Israel deploys '100 sharpshooters' on Gaza border ahead of mass Palestinian protests

Hamas is hoping to mobilise large demonstrations along the border with Israel. [Getty]

Date of publication: 28 March, 2018

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Palestinian organisers hope hundreds of thousands will head to tent cities in five locations along the border in a six-week protest for the right of return of Palestinian refugees.

Israel's military has deployed more than 100 sharpshooters along the border with Gaza ahead of mass Palestinian demonstrations, Israel's top general said on Wednesday.

Hamas is hoping to mobilise large demonstrations along the border with Israel in the coming weeks, culminating with a march to the border fence on 15 May to commemorate the mass expulsion of Palestinians during Israel's establishment in 1948.

Beginning on Friday, organisers hope hundreds of thousands will head to tent cities in five locations along the border in a six-week protest for the right of return of Palestinian refugees to what is now Israel.

"We have deployed more than 100 sharpshooters who were called up from all of the military's units, primarily from the special forces," Israel's military chief of staff Lieutenant-General Gadi Eizenkot Eizenkot told the Yedioth Ahronoth daily.

"If lives are in jeopardy, there is permission to open fire."

Israel's military will not allow "mass infiltration" or tolerate damage to the border barrier during the demonstrations, Eizenkot added.

Earlier on Wednesday, Israeli tanks hit two Hamas positions in the Gaza Strip after activists set fire to the base of the security fence on the volatile frontier, the army said.

The incident comes a day after Israeli soldiers detained three Palestinians who had slipped across the border from Gaza in possession of knives and grenades.

There had already been an uptick in incidents along the border as Palestinian anger runs high over US President Donald Trump's decision in December to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital. 

On Saturday, a number of Palestinians breached the frontier and tried to torch heavy equipment. In response, Israeli jets attacked positions of Hamas.

A day later gunfire from Gaza set off Israel's Iron Dome air defence system and in response a tank fired at a Hamas position.

Last December, disabled Palestinian activist Ibrahim Abu Thuraya was shot dead during a day of demonstrations along the border against US President Donald Trump's decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

The Palestinian health ministry said he was shot in the head by an Israeli sniper.

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