On March 30th 2019, tens of thousands of Palestinian protesters engaged in a mass protest and gathered along the Israel-Gaza border to mark the one-year anniversary of the weekly weekend demonstrations. The Great March of Return protests started on March 30th last year calling for the Palestinians’ right of return to their lands, from which their families were violently expelled in 1948, and for the end of the 12-year Israeli blockade of Gaza.
Last Sunday, Nov 11, 2018, an undercover Israeli unit involved in a covert operation was intercepted by Hamas members in Gaza. This incident triggered deadly clashes that left seven Palestinians and one ISF agent dead. This later evolved into a firefight in which Hamas fired more than 400 rockets and mortars towards Israel in 48 hours and the Israeli military fired around 160 airstrikes targeting several areas within the Gaza Strip.
On Saturday July 14th, Israeli Security Forces (ISF) launched its most severe airstrike campaign against the Gaza Strip since the war of 2014 (i.e. Operation Protective Edge) after militants allegedly fired over 200 rockets and other projectiles towards Israeli controlled areas. Sirens reportedly went off in southern parts of Israel, including Sha’ar HaNegev, Sdot Negev, Hof Ashkelon and Eshkol Regional Councils. As such, due to a high state of tensions, Israeli authorities closed public beaches and restricted gatherings of large groups in those areas.
Since the 42nd commemoration of the Palestinian Land Day that began on Saturday March 30th, Palestinians from the Gaza Strip launched a 46-day long campaign to mainly demand the right of return of Palestinian refugees to Israeli controlled areas. The campaign was also meant to protest the transfer of the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Nakbeh.
Gaza’s sole power plant was shut-down on April 17th, as the fuel reserves were consumed. Debates are still ongoing between PA and Hamas on fuel tax exemption and revenue collection from electricity consumers. According to the ICRC, Gaza is on the verge of a “systemic collapse”.
The Palestinian Authority has been paying the Israeli Authorities to supply Gaza with electricity until April in which the PA declared payments will stop, while in May, the Israeli Authorities reduced the electricity provided to Gaza.