Israel declines to disclose policy vis-a-vis protesters

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The Israeli army has refused to disclose its rules of engagement in regards to ongoing Palestinian rallies along the Gaza Strip’s eastern border, Israeli daily Haaretz has reported.

According to the newspaper’s website, the army has refused to answer a petition requesting clarification of its policies in regards to the rallies, which have remained ongoing since March 30.

The petition was submitted earlier this month to Israel’s High Court of Justice by four human rights groups.

The army insists that its policy vis-a-vis the use of force along the fraught Gaza-Israel border is “confidential”, saying its rules of engagement in this regard could only be disclosed in a closed court session.

Human rights groups have repeatedly called on Israel to stop using live ammunition against Palestinian demonstrators along the border if the latter pose no immediate threat to Israeli forces.

Since the border rallies began one month ago, at least 49 protesters — including five children — have been killed by cross-border Israeli gunfire, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.

Thousands of others have reportedly been injured — more than 140 seriously — over the same period.

For the last four weeks, Gazans have staged peaceful rallies along the border to demand the “right of return” to their homes in historical Palestine from which they were driven in 1948 to make way for the new state of Israel.

The rallies are part of a six-week demonstration that will culminate on May 15, which will mark the 70th anniversary of Israel's establishment — an event Palestinians refer to as "The Catastrophe".

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