Israel deploys reinforcements near Gaza ahead of ‘Great March of Return’ anniversary

Gaza/PNN/

On the eve of the first anniversary of the “Great March of Return” protests, Israeli soldiers and tanks have been deployed near the fence separating the occupied territories from the besieged Gaza Strip.

The reinforcements were deployed on Friday morning as Gazans planned to stage a massive protest on Saturday to commemorate the first anniversary of the demonstrations, in the course of which Israeli soldiers have killed over 260 Palestinians.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu threatened on Thursday that Tel Aviv would wage a broad military campaign on Gaza if needed, after a two-day flare-up of cross-border fighting that has left several people injured on both sides.

The “Great March of Return” protests demand the right to return for those driven out of their homeland by Israeli aggression. They started on March 30 last year. Tensions have since been running high on the edge of Gaza. At least 26,000 Palestinians have also been wounded in the protests, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.

A United Nations (UN) fact-finding mission found that Israeli forces committed rights violations during their crackdown against the Palestinian protesters in Gaza that may amount to war crimes.

Egypt, the UN, and others have been trying to broker a deal to limit the level of violence.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Tel Aviv is ready to wage a broad military campaign in Gaza if needed, after a two-day flareup of cross-border fighting which has left several people injured on both sides.

“All Israelis should know that if a comprehensive campaign is required, we will enter it strong and safe, and after we have exhausted all of the other possibilities,” Netanyahu said after visiting the Gaza frontier, where he met some Israeli commanders.

His comments came after two consecutive nights of heavy Israeli bombardments, which wounded several Palestinians but were responded to with a rocket attack from the enclave. The attack wounded seven Israelis in Mishmeret, an agricultural town north of Tel Aviv, on Monday, and forced Netanyahu to cut short his visit to the US.