Hamas threatens mass border protests if Israel refuses to let Qatar aid into Gaza

Hamas threatens mass border protests if Israel refuses to let Qatar aid into Gaza
3 min read
05 June, 2021
Hamas has threatened to restart the Great Return March protests of 2018 if Israel continues to refuse much-needed aid into the besieged Gaza Strip.
Gaza is under siege [Getty]

Hamas has threatened to restart the infamous Great Return March of 2018 if Israel refuses to let Qatari aid into the besieged Gaza Strip, the Palestinian militant group said on Friday. 

In January, Qatar pledged $360 million to Gaza, to be paid out over 2021. The need for aid to be delivered became even more urgent after Israel launched an 11-day relentless bombardment campaign on the impoverished enclave, killing over 250 Palestinians, including 67 children.

Despite Gaza suffering en-masse damage as a result of Israeli air raids, Tel Aviv refuses to allow Qatari aid into the besieged enclave.

Lea Goldin, the mother of Israeli Lieutenant Hadar Goldin, whose corpse is being held by Hamas, said she was promised by the Israeli army's Deputy Chief of Staff Ayal Zamir that Israel will not allow the transfer of Qatari money into the Strip until Hamas returns her son's body.

Hamas on Friday threatened Israel in a message through Egyptian mediators that it will renew the mass border fence protests of 2018 if the aid does not arrive by next week. 

The statement was made while Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani denied that his country is funding terrorist organisations in Gaza - accusations made by Israel to withhold aid from the enclave, where over two million Palestinians live. 

"Qatar has invested one billion four hundred million dollars in rehabilitating the Strip since 2012, and Israel knows exactly where all the money goes," he said.

The Great Return March protests began on March 30, 2018, which coincided with Palestine's Land Day - a commemoration of the Palestinian right to return, and lasted for a number of weeks.

Tens of thousands of Palestinian refugees, who make up 70% of Gaza's overall population, marched to the Israeli border fence in a show of defiance that they will return to their homes inside historic Palestine.

The mostly peaceful protests included cultural forms of resistance such as singing, dabke dancing and family-friendly activities that were met with Israeli snipers, who killed at least 200 people and injuring over 8,000.

Despite Palestinians not crossing into Israel and remaining in their own territory, Palestinians who deemed as coming "too close" to the border fence were immediately shot.

Israel faced international criticism for its deadly response to the mass marches. Rights groups have branded open-fire orders as unlawful, saying they effectively permit soldiers to use potentially lethal force against unarmed protesters.

However, Israel defended its disproportionate use of violence against peaceful protesters involved in the Great Return March demonstrations after facing a legal challenge from international rights groups, suggesting human rights laws do not apply to what it described as "acts of war".