Palestinian activists are seen reflected in a mirror as they gather at the Israel-Gaza border, in the southern Gaza Strip April 2, 2018. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa
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The tires are to be burned at a mass protest Friday, in hopes clouds of black smoke will shield demonstrators from Israeli snipers.For some of the young Gaza men hanging around the camp, the chant wasn't just rousing hyperbole.It's not an idle threat – 19 people were killed by Israeli fire since last Friday, including 14 in border protests, and many more were wounded.Such desperation has helped drive what Gaza's Hamas rulers hope will be several weeks of border protests, with the largest crowds expected on Fridays.For Hamas, it's perhaps the last chance to break a Gaza border blockade enforced by Israel and Egypt since seizing the territory from its rival, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, in 2007 .Three senior Hamas official said the movement wants to avoid another war with Israel, but border tensions could quickly escalate – especially if Israel makes good on threats to target Hamas positions deeper inside Gaza unless the protests stop.Israel has accused Hamas of cynically exploiting Gaza's civilians for its political gains by sending them to the dangerous border area.
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