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The inhabitants of the Gaza Strip use homemade masks against Israeli tear gas



GAZA-BORDER (Reuters) – While tear gas is drifting into Gaza's border fence in Israel's no-go zone, Palestinian demonstrators are rushing between them, relying on a number of self-made devices to keep out the fumes.

A Palestinian protester wearing a mask with a hoop during a protest on the Israeli-Gaza border in southern Gaza on April 6, 201
8. Photo taken on April 6, 2018. REUTERS / Ibrahim Abu Mustafa

Medical masks made of plastic bottles, T-shirts, and keffiyehs were all put into service against gas bottles fired daily by Israeli troops. One ingredient is common to many devices: onions.

The efficacy of a single vegetable is questionable when used against the latest "riot transport" used by one of the Middle East's most well-equipped armies. But the demonstrators persist.

Some say they mimic the techniques used in the first Palestinian intifada or Israeli uprising in the 1980s. Others have copied masks they've seen in Hollywood movies like V for Vendetta.

Jehad Abu Mehsen, 48, covered most of her face with a plastic bottle holding an onion in front of her nose. She was sure the more onion she used, the longer she could stay at a protest rally.

A combined picture shows Palestinian protesters protesting on the Israeli-Gaza border in the southern Gaza Strip on April 6, 2018. Photo taken on April 6, 2018. REUTERS / Ibrahim Abu Mustafa

"It helps the plight it softens a strong smell, but it does not stop the gas coming in. I was twice put in the medical tent to be treated, "she said.

Mazen Al-Najar, 15, preferred a cocktail of ingredients – an empty Coca-Cola can filled with cotton, perfume and charcoal.

When asked what he would hope for when he grew up, he stopped and said, "Maybe a mask maker."

Slideshow (7 pictures)

Tear gas is by no means the worst threat confronting the demonstrators.

Thirty Palestinians were killed during the six-week "Great March of Return", renewing Palestinian long-standing demands for the right to return home to their families during the violence surrounding the founding of the State of Israel in 1948 [19659004] The Israeli government refuses to grant the Palestinians such a right of return because it fears that the country would lose its Jewish majority.

The Israeli military and political leadership has defended the use of fire against demonstrators and declared that they will continue to protect the Israeli border.

They also accuse Hamas and other militant groups of initiating demonstrations and using them as cover for attacks. No Israelis were killed or injured.

Protests are expected to rise on Friday as the demonstrations peak. According to Gaza's Ministry of Health, 3,000 people have been injured so far, including 900 who suffer from gas poisoning.

Mahmoud Al-Khuzundar, a doctor in the Gaza Strip, said demonstrators' tentative safeguards were useless against direct exposure to tear gas and had more psychological implications.

"Some people try to be creative, others want to look tough," he said.

Reporting by Nidal Almughrabi; Arrangement of Angus MacSwan


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