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The New Arab

Israel claims Egypt pressured Hamas to end 'Great Return March' protests

Hamas has dismissed the claim, saying protests will continue until goals are achieved [Getty]

Date of publication: 16 May, 2018

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Israel has said the dwindling Great Return March protests are due to Egyptian pressure on Hamas.
Palestinian protests on the Gaza border have petered away in recent days due to Egyptian pressure on Hamas, Israel claimed on Wednesday.

The Palestinian group Hamas denied that pressure from neighbouring Egypt had resulted in protests dying down, saying that they will continue, despite dozens being shot dead by Israeli snipers on Monday.

While Israel has found itself under global condemnation, it has pushed back against criticism with the backing of the US. It accused Hamas of using civilians as cover for attacks - a claim that the Gaza-based movement denies.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh visited Egypt on Sunday, and was warned by Egypt about likely bloodshed if protests were held, Israel claimed.

He was told "Israel will respond and take far harsher steps, and Egypt will stand by and will not help", Israeli Intelligence Minister Israel Katz told Israel Radio.

"Haniyeh returned to Gaza, Hamas gave an order ... and miraculously, this spontaneous protest by a public that could not handle the situation any more dissipated."

Hamas spokesperson Fawzi Barhoum dismissed Katz' claims saying, "there is no mediation. The marches will continue until our people achieve their goals".

Two Palestinians were shot dead along the Gazan border on Tuesday, medics reported.

But this week, the border region has been markedly quieter than Monday, when 61 Palestinians were killed and 2,400 injured by Israeli snipers and tear gas.

It was the deadliest day in the besieged territory since 2014 war.

Hamas claimed on Wednesday that 50 of the dead were members of the movement.

The demonstrations were held to protest against the US embassy move from Tel Aviv to the contested city of Jerusalem.

Palestinians have also held demonstrations on the Gaza border for their right of return to their homes, now in Israel.

These too have been brutally suppressed by Israeli forces, with 117 people Palestinians killed over the past six weeks.

This week, Palestinians have been commemorated al-Nakba, or "the Catastrophe", when hundreds of thousands of were forced from their homes during the formation of Israel - many of them to Gaza.


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