Gazans stage general strike amid Land Day protests
Palestinians staged a general strike in the Gaza Strip on Saturday amid planned mass protests marking the Land Day and the first anniversary of rallies against the decades-long Israeli occupation.
Schools, shops and public institutions closed their doors across the blockaded territory, according to an Anadolu Agency correspondent in Gaza.
The general strike comes as thousands of Palestinians began to converge on the Gaza-Israel buffer zone on Saturday to take part in the Land Day rallies, which mark the killing of six people by Israeli forces in 1976 during demonstrations against the seizure of Arab land in Galilee.
On Friday, Palestinian resistance groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad warned Israel against attacking protesters during the planned demonstrations.
In the run-up to Saturday's rallies, the Israeli army has deployed numerous tanks and armored vehicles along the buffer zone with the Gaza Strip.
On Thursday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly instructed the army to prepare for the possibility of a "broad" campaign in Gaza.
Nearly 270 Palestinian demonstrators have been martyred by Israeli army gunfire since Palestinians began holding regular demonstrations along the Gaza-Israel buffer zone in March of last year.
Demonstrators demand the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes in historical Palestine from which they were driven in 1948 to make way for the new state of Israel.
They also demand an end to Israel's 12-year blockade of the Gaza Strip, which has gutted the coastal enclave's economy and deprived its roughly two million inhabitants of many basic commodities.