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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 18 June 2018

Palestinians practise parkour on Gaza-Israel border

Gazans watched a parkour team flip and twist its way around the site of the Great March of Return

Palestinian parkour experts have performed a special show on the Israeli-Gaza border, close to a site where mass protests and deadly clashes have occurred since late March.

Dozens of Gazans on Tuesday evening watched four members of a parkour team flip and twist their way around the site of the camp of what Palestinians have dubbed the Great March of Return.

Israeli soldiers in military observation towers or behind sand barriers surveyed the scene, with the performance several hundred metres from the border fence in Rafah in southern Gaza.

"We came here in the camp of return in Rafah to show our parkour," said 27-year-old Naji Muammar. "This is our message to the world that we will return to our country and practise our sport there."

Mohammed Abu Jihad, another of the performers, said: "We don't have anything to resist with except parkour."

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Gazans have set up tents in five main areas along the Gaza border for the Great March of Return, which is calling for Palestinian refugees to be able to return to their former homes which are now inside Israel.

Mass protests peaking on Fridays have led to clashes in which Israeli forces have killed 31 Palestinians. No Israelis have been hurt.

The protests are expected to continue until mid-May, when US President Donald Trump plans to move the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a move that has deeply angered the Palestinians.

Muammar admitted the conservative culture of Gaza, which is run by Islamist movement Hamas, meant practising parkour was not always easy.

"There are many difficulties," he said.

"Some people prevent us from practising in parks and on streets of the city."