The death toll at the Palestinian "March of Return" has doubled in 24 hours from eight to 16. One of the 16 at this point is a 16-year-old. The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) claim they were responding to rioting but even before the 16 protestors killed the "festivities" kicked off with the death of a 27-year-old farmer who had been tending his fields.
The Palestinian March of Return carries a heavy symbolic weight considering it is in protest of the move of Israel's capital from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem which will take place until May 15th, the day the capital is set to move. May 14th marks Nakba which commemorates the displacement of Palestinians decades ago after the Balfour Declaration made Israel a state. The protest was kicked off on what is known as Land Day to the Palestinian people. Land Day commemorates the killing of 6 unarmed Palestinian protesters in 1976.
Multiple refugee camps are set up to house the protesters but with IDF, including police paramilitary and snipers set up at the border, chances are the death toll will continue to rise. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is calling on the UN to provide "protection for the Palestinian people" in the face of the current events.
<blockquote>"I… place full responsibility on the Israeli authorities for the loss of the martyrs who were killed today," he said.
What happened at the border?</blockquote>
The protesters say they are prepared to continue with their march until refugees are allowed back into homes in what is currently Israel. Currently, the number of Palestinians protesting numbers in the tens of thousands focusing on five main locations around the border fence. IDF has "enforced a closed military zone" in Gaza as a result.
With tanks, snipers and tear gas at the ready and groups of Palestinian youths ignoring the protest organizers cry to stay away from the border fence, the number of casualties and injured is sure to rise as the days pass. Currently, this is the greatest death toll in the Israeli war in Gaza since the summer of 2014.
Tomorrow, the Palestinians will be burying their dead and heading back to the border where the IDF is reporting that some of the Palestinians are throwing stones and rolling burning tires. Hamas was ready to accept an interim Palestinian state in Gaza and the West bank but if military escalations cause worsened relations the enmity between factions on both sides is sure to increase resulting in greater bloodshed.