Palestinian protesters raise the hand of a young boy while posing for a photo during a protest at the Gaza Strip's border with Israel.

Death calls on Gaza every week, like clockwork

Gaza Strip has been brought to its knees over the last decade by three punishing wars with Israel

By AP in Malaka (Gaza Strip)
  • Published 20.11.18, 3:34 PM
  • Updated 20.11.18, 6:35 PM
  • a min read
  •  

Atalla Fayoumi hobbles on crutches across the sunbaked plain near Israel's perimeter fence in the Gaza Strip, gazing toward plumes of smoke that have begun rising from a clutch of burning tires in the distance.

The 18-year-old Palestinian's right leg was amputated after Israeli soldiers shot him here in April at one of the mass demonstrations against Israel's long blockade of Gaza that are held every week. Yet he has kept returning to the protests — just like thousands of other desperate, unemployed men who feel they have nothing left to lose.

Eight months after the demonstrations began, there appears to be no end to what has become a predictable routine that has killed dozens. Over the next few hours, Fayoumi knows the crowds will swell into the thousands. They'll burn so many tires, the sky will turn black. They'll attack the fence with stones and firebombs, Israeli gunfire will ring out, and Palestinian ambulance sirens will wail non-stop.

By the time it is over, at least 80 Palestinians will be wounded and three will be dead.

At sunset, Fayoumi and the others will abruptly turn around and walk home, while the Israelis will emerge from their positions and march the other way.

In a week, like clockwork, they will be back, poised for the deadly ritual to start all over again.

The Gaza Strip has been the front line of confrontations between Palestinians and Israel for generations. But the territory has been brought to its knees over the last decade by three punishing wars with Israel and an air, sea and land blockade.

AP
Photo Credit: AP
Palestinians pray next to the body of 11-year-old Shady Abdel-al at his funeral in Beit Lahiya, northern Gaza Strip. Though the health ministry initially reported Abdel-al was shot by Israeli fire, the Israeli army claimed he was accidentally struck by a rock thrown by protesters.
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Shady Abdel-al's mother Asmaa Abdel-al at the funeral. She says she told the boy not to go, but he boarded a bus to the border organised by Hamas, whose supporters were teaching him the Quran.
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Palestinian protesters run from teargas fired by Israeli troops during a protest at the Gaza Strip's border with Israel, east of Gaza City. The noise here is constant, like a waterfall. Men blow whistles, others scream at the top of their lungs.
AP
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A Palestinian who was injured during a protest stands near the border. "Every Friday we wait for the injuries, and every Friday it's always the same," says a doctor. "They always come."
AP
Photo Credit: AP
Atalla Fayoumi (right) lost his right leg after Israeli soldiers shot him in April at a mass demonstration. Yet, like other desperate young men in Gaza who feel they have nothing left to lose, the 18-year-old Palestinian has kept returning to the protests.
AP
Photo Credit: AP
Khalil Ayesh and his family watch Palestinian protesters at the Gaza Strip's border. "I bring them every week," Ayesh said of the three children in the back seat -- his son and daughter, and his daughter's neighbour. "So they can understand what this struggle is about."
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