Hamas denies it was under pressure from Egypt to curb Gaza protests

Palestinian protests on the Gaza-Israel border have dropped off over the past two days, with Israel on Wednesday citing “Egyptian efforts” to restore calm after dozens of Palestinians were killed by Israeli gunfire. Gaza’s dominant Islamist Hamas movement denied that it was under pressure from neighboring Egypt to scale back the six-week-old demonstrations, Reuters reports. Israel and Egypt, citing security concerns, maintain a de facto blockade on Gaza which has reduced its economy to a state of collapse during more than a decade of Hamas rule. On Wednesday, Palestinian factions, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad, urged people to take part in mass rallies on Friday. However, observers expect the start of the holy month of Ramadan on Thursday to limit the scale of the demonstrations.