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Gaza border protests called off after Israel air raids — organizers

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By Agence France-Presse 

Weekly protests along the Gaza-Israel border were called off Friday after a military escalation between the Jewish state and Palestinian militants in the territory, organizers announced.

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Israeli media reported that Israel’s Iron Dome missile defence system opened fire on March 14, 2019. (File/AFP)

“In keeping with the public interest, the commission has decided to exceptionally postpone its activities scheduled for this day,” the body which organizes the protests said in a statement.

Protests will resume in the coming weeks, with particular preparation for the one-year anniversary of their beginning on March 30, it said.

The cancellation, the first of its kind in a year, came after Israel said its aircraft struck dozens of Hamas targets in Gaza overnight in response to rockets fired from the enclave, including at Tel Aviv.

An official from the organizing committee, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the protests were delayed “to protect our people due to the escalation and the Israeli aggression.”

The often violent protests are demanding Palestinian refugees and their descendants be allowed to return to former homes now inside Israel.

Israeli officials say that amounts to calling for the Jewish state’s destruction, and accuse Hamas, the Islamist movement that runs the Gaza Strip, of orchestrating the protests.

At least 255 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since March 2018, the majority shot during border demonstrations and clashes.

Others have been hit by tank fire or air strikes in response to violence from Gaza.

Two Israeli soldiers have been killed over the same period.

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