Protests at Gaza-Israel fence resume after 3-week pause

Thousands of Palestinians have demonstrated along the Gaza-Israel frontier as the territory’s Hamas rulers resumed regular protests after a three-week pause

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip -- Thousands of Palestinians demonstrated along the Gaza-Israel frontier Friday as the territory’s Hamas rulers resumed the regular protests after a three-week pause.

The renewed weekly protests came as leaders from Hamas and the smaller but more radical Islamic Jihad were in Cairo, talking with Egyptian mediators about cementing a cease-fire with Israel that is expected to ease Gaza’s 12-year-old blockade.

Organizers of the marches kept them restrained Friday, with no burning tires or firebombs, and with only a few protesters approaching the fortified perimeter fence and hurling stones at Israeli troops with slingshots.

The militant Hamas group had put the weekly marches on hold since mid-November following a short round of cross-border fighting with Israel.

The fighting, the worst in months, was sparked by an Israeli targeted killing of a senior Islamic Jihad commander. Over the past decade, Israel and Hamas have fought three wars and dozens of shorter skirmishes.

Hazem Qassem, a Hamas spokesman, said his movement is determined to break the blockade and that the talks in Cairo, which also include bilateral discussions with the Islamic Jihad, were for this purpose.

“We won’t allow this situation to last and we will continue the protests until the siege is broken,” he said in a statement.

Unconfirmed reports say Egypt has proposed a five-year truce that will see economic incentives to Gaza to sustain calm.