Girding for violence, Israel had almost doubled its forces along the border, deploying snipers, special units and drones, and warning that it would act to prevent any breach of the border fence or violation of Israel’s sovereignty.
The idea for the border encampments, in about half a dozen locations, was initiated by a Gazan social-media activist, Ahmed Abu Artema, a political independent, and was soon adopted by Hamas, which has been promoting the protest on its social media platforms and urging Palestinians to participate.
“Our will in achieving the actual return to our lands is more powerful than jet fighters and a gun,” Mr. Abu Artema said by phone on Friday as he was on his way to the protest. “This march is rightful and will not be used and exploited for political agendas.”
For Israel, the prospect of unarmed mass protests posed the challenge of trying to maintain deterrence by threatening harsh measures, while also trying to avoid mass civilian casualties. Amos Harel, a military analyst for the liberal newspaper Haaretz, wrote on Friday that the Israeli military “will have to maneuver between two goals likely to be contradictory.”
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