Protesters clash with Israeli soldiers during demonstration along Gaza border
Protesters clash with Israeli soldiers during demonstration along Gaza borderHassan Jedi/Flash 90

Hamas made a decision to reduce the weekly "Great March of Return" protests next to the Israel-Gaza border fence, which have been taking place every Friday for almost two years, to once a month.

The steering committee of the "Great March of Return" protests announced at a press conference in Gaza on Thursday that beginning in January 2020, the marches will take place only once a month rather than every week. The new plan will begin at the "special" Land Day march on March 30, marking the second anniversary of the March of Return protests.

The final weekly march in its current format will take place this Friday and the marches will then stop until the Land March on March 30.

The change is apparently taking place due to a possible ceasefire that is being negotiated between Israel and Hamas with the help of Egypt, which IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi referred to on Wednesday in a speech on Israel's national security.

A report by the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center on Monday said that the decision was also a result of Gazans losing interest in the marches. The number of people participating in the marches, which have been taking place since March 2018, have been gradually decreasing and a few marches were recently canceled altogether.

However, the report added that Hamas is not interested in stopping the marches and inherent violence altogether but would like to reduce the frequency of the marches and the level of violence. Hamas believes that reducing the marches rather than stopping them altogether will allow them to receive concessions from Israel while maintaining the possibility of increasing them in the future if circumstances change.

"March" is quite the euphemism for the protests, which regularly included throwing Molotov cocktails, grenades and IEDs at IDF soldiers, damaging the border fence, launching incendiary balloons and attempting to infiltrate the fence into Israel.