- 16 Jun 21
Hundreds in the occupied territories rallied against Israeli ‘March of the Flags’ in East Jerusalem, before tensions spilled over. Israel claims to have begun the airstrike as a result of "incendiary balloons" sent into the area by Hamas.
Israeli airforces have carried out a series of airstrikes in the Gaza Strip last night, marking the end to the unstable ceasefire which ended the bombing campaign last month.
The Israeli military said the airstrikes targeted facilities used by Hamas militants for meetings to plan attacks, blaming the group for any act of violence emanating from Gaza. Israel also claimed that Hamas had sent "incendiary balloons" into the area. There have been no immediate reports of casualties as of yet.
On Tuesday, hundreds of Israeli ultra-nationalist, far-right groups marched in East Jerusalem in a show of force that threatened to spark renewed violence. The 'March of the Flags' was approved by Israel's new government, despite the shaky truce that ended 11 days of horrific violence last month - which killed over 266 Palestinians and 13 Israelis. 66 Palestinian children were among those who perished as a result of. the bombs. Palestinians in Gaza reportedly responded by launching incendiary balloons, causing fires in Israel.
Palestinians consider the 'March of the Flags', meant to celebrate Israel’s capture of East Jerusalem in 1967, to be a provocation. Hamas called on Palestinians to “resist” the parade.
My family whatsApp group is suddenly filled with questions about loud sounds heard in parts of Gaza. And it is now confirmed. Israeli forces are bombing Gaza. It took the new Israeli PM 48 hours to take a decision to do this. Our families have not healed yet.
— Malaka (@MalakaShwaikh) June 15, 2021
Ahead of the march, Israeli police forcibly removed dozens of Palestinians from outside the Old City’s Damascus Gate. At least 17 Palestinians were arrested and 33 others were wounded as Israeli police fired stun grenades in the surrounding areas of Damascus Gate.
Hundreds of Jewish ultra-nationalists taking party in the march were heard chanting “Death to Arabs” in Hebrew. In another anti-Palestinian chant, they yelled: “May your village burn.”
In Gaza City, some demonstrators burned pictures of former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as well as his recent successor, Naftali Bennett, while members of Palestinian factions delivered speeches.
“This is a provocation of our people and an aggression against our Jerusalem and our holy sites,” Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said of the march on Monday.
— Aya Isleem 🇵🇸 #Gaza (@AyaIsleemEn) June 16, 2021
A new poll released on Tuesday found a major surge in Palestinian support for Hamas after last month’s war on Gaza. The scientific poll was carried out by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, which also found plummeting support for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. The President is seen internationally as a partner for reviving the long-defunct peace process.
The poll found that 53 percent of Palestinians believe Hamas is “most deserving of representing and leading the Palestinian people”, while just 14 percent prefer Abbas’s Fatah party.
The poll also found that 77 percent of Palestinians believe Hamas emerged as the victor, with nearly as many saying that it fought the war to defend Jerusalem and its holy sites, rather than as part of an internal struggle with Abbas’s Fatah party.
Read Hot Press' emotional Palestinian Voices series from last month here.
Picture credit: Mahmud Hams / AFP