WORLD

Gazans flock to buffer zone for 58th week of protests

Palestinians converged along the - on to take part in the 58th week of running demonstrations against Israel's decades-long occupation.

In a statement, Gaza's National Authority for Return and Breaking the Siege (NARBS), which organizes the weekly rallies, called on Palestinians to rise up against what they called "American support for Israel to annex the West Bank."

The U.S. ambassador to Israel David Friedman said in an interview to the New York Times that "under certain circumstances..., I think Israel has the right to retain some, but unlikely all, of the West Bank."

Abdul Latif Al-Qanoa, a spokesman for Hamas, said for his part that Friday's marches "come to emphasize our people's rejection of the unjust American decisions."

"The West Bank is an integral part of our occupied land as there is no future for the Zionist occupation [Israel] on our land," he added.

Since March of last year, Gazans have held weekly rallies along the buffer zone to demand the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes in historical 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.

Since the rallies began more than one year ago, scores of protesters have been killed -- and thousands more injured -- by Israeli troops deployed near the buffer zone.

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