Hamas head to lead new Gaza border protests Friday

Gaza City (Palestinian Territories) (AFP) –


The leader of Gaza's ruling movement Hamas announced he would go Friday to the Israeli border to take part in fresh protests, four days after 60 Palestinians were killed in violence.

Ismail Haniya also denied a deal had been made to end seven weeks of border protests, vowing they would continue.

Speaking at a Gaza City mosque during midday prayers on the first Friday of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, Haniya said: "We will all go, and me first of you, to the Gaza border.

"The marches will not stop until the siege is lifted completely from the Gaza Strip."

He was expected to travel to the border after 1600 local time (1400 GMT), although it was not clear how large the protests would be.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi announced late Thursday at the start of Ramadan that his country's border with Gaza would be open throughout the holy month to "alleviate the suffering" of Gazans.

Local media have speculated that a deal has been struck for Egypt, which has a 1979 peace treaty with Israel, to open the border in exchange for Hamas ending the protests.

Haniya welcomed Sisi's decision but denied any such an agreement.

"There is a rumour that Hamas made a deal with Egypt to end the marches. This is baseless," he said.

Since the Gaza protests began on March 30, 116 Palestinians have been killed along the border, mostly by Israeli army gunfire.