On Tuesday, April 3, Israeli troops shot and killed a Palestinian protester in Gaza near the Israeli border, raising the number of Palestinians killed in clashes with Israel Defense Forces (IDF) personnel to 17 since protests broke out along the Israel-Gaza border on Friday, March 30 ("Land Day"). Over 1400 other Palestinian protesters had been wounded in the protests on Friday, according to Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian representative to the UN.
Similar to the March 30 protests, planned demonstrations slated for Friday, April 6, are again expected to attract the participation of tens of thousands of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. Israeli Minister of Defense Avigdor Lieberman, for his part, has warned that the IDF may use lethal force against Palestinian protesters who demonstrate near the border fence. Additional Palestinian protests, clashes between Palestinian protesters and IDF personnel, and associated casualties are expected in the coming days and weeks as the six-week tent city protests are scheduled to continue until May 15.
Security across Israel was stepped up considerably in late March in anticipation of a series of sensitive events, including Land Day and Passover. An Israeli general warned on March 28 that the army would open fire on anyone who approached the "no go" zone along the Israeli border "dangerously." Additional Israeli troops, including 100 snipers, were deployed to the border area and the border fence was reinforced.
Land Day commemorates the events of March 30, 1976, when six Arab-Israeli citizens were killed and hundreds more wounded or arrested amid a general strike and widespread protests over land confiscated by Israeli authorities.
This year, March 30 also coincided with the start of the Jewish Passover holiday, which runs until Saturday, April 7. Israeli security forces typically maintain a heightened security presence in East Jerusalem during Passover and forbid Palestinians from entering Israel to work, including those with valid permits. Security measures have been strengthened across Israel this year for Passover, and have included operations to arrest undocumented Palestinian workers in the country.
Individuals present in Israel and the Palestinian Territories are advised to avoid all protests or other public gatherings due to the high risk of violence and to monitor developments to the situation. Due to the underlying terrorist threat, travelers in Israel, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip are advised to report any suspicious objects or behavior to the authorities. Some Western governments advise their citizens against all travel to the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and areas near the Israeli-Lebanese, Israeli-Syrian, and Israeli-Egyptian borders.
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