Six-Months in, Friday Protests Remain Deadly
Six months into the weekly demonstrations along the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip, the level of violence arguably remains on the upswing while the death toll continues to grow. The so-called “Return Marches” referring to the Palestinians’ demand that those who fled their homes in 1948 be allowed to reclaim their homes, have become the standard for Fridays since they began at the end of March. While originally planned to continue only until Israeli Independence Day in May, the public relations value of images of uniformed Israelis firing live ammunition at supposedly unarmed Palestinians – including many youth – proved to be so compelling to the Palestinian cause that on September 28 the weekly protests will enter their seventh month. The Israelis have been and remain frustrated and angry over their inability to convince the world that the conventional wisdom that describes the confrontation as Israeli soldiers firing on Palestinian youth participating in peaceful demonstrations is untrue. Review of films of the weekly melees does, indeed, reveal the routine hurling of rocks and Molotov cocktails at Israeli troops and the urging by Palestinians of young Palestinians to draw soldiers into direct confrontation. A confrontation on Saturday was typical with three deaths of Palestinians reported but overshadowing the tossing of three hand grenades, two improvised explosive devices and numerous rocks at Israeli troops. The death toll is now 178 for the Return Marches.