Violin players and listeners actually think cheap, new violins sound better than the expensive Stradivarius models according to a new report. Sean Dowling (@seandowlingtv) has more.
View at DailyMotion
The FAANG stocks have ruled the technology sector the last few years and have had a heavy influence on the entire stock market. Apple is the world’s most valuable company by market capitalization, with Amazon and Google not far behind. So anyone indexing US large-cap equities—which means almost anyone with investment capital—simply must own them.
Here’s a chart that Dave Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff shared at SIC 2018. It shows 2017 price returns for some selected asset classes. Last year, pretty much everything went up, but FAANG stocks did most.
Source: Gluskin Sheff
The FAANG stocks outperformed other stock benchmarks as well as gold’s price, oil, and bonds. And not just by a little. If you are an equity portfolio manager who didn’t own the FAANGs last year, you probably had some explaining to do. But at SIC 2018, Dave went on to demonstrate why 2018 or 2019 could be quite different.
Dave Rosenberg used four different S&P 500 valuation metrics:
- Forward Price to Earnings Ratio
- Price to Sales Ratio
- Price to Book Value Ratio
- Enterprise Value to EBITDA Ratio
He then calculated the percentage of time that each of these had been at its present level or below. Here’s the result for P/E ratio.
Source: Gluskin Sheff
The S&P 500 forward P/E ratio has been below its present level 83% of the time since 1990. Repeating that exercise for the other three metrics and then averaging them, Dave found the index is presently at a 92ndpercentile valuation event.
Here’s Dave, from the transcript, with my bold added:
In other words, only 8% of the time in the past has the stock market in the United States been as richly priced as it is today. And if you want to come up with reasons why that’s the case, that’s fine. But just understand that we are extremely pricey. We’re more than just a one standard deviation event versus the historical average.
Dave then showed this surprising table, comparing historic bull markets with GDP change during the same period.
Source: Gluskin Sheff
The 2009–2018 bull market from trough to peak averaged 17.3% annually. Nominal GDP rose 3.6% annually during that time, and real GDP rose 2.1%. Go up the table to the 1982–1990 bull run. It reached a similar magnitude at 17.5%, but nominal GDP rose 7.6% and real GDP 4.2%.
Yes, GDP has its flaws. Today’s economy isn’t like the 1980s. Nonetheless, how is it that stocks rose the same amount on half as much economic growth? Dave said that if the stock-GDP ratio today had remained what it was back then, the S&P 500 would be around 1,550 today.
That’s how excessive valuations are now.
The Net Worth/Income Ratio at Pre-Crisis Levels
Here’s another way Dave looked at it: household net worth as a percentage of disposable income. The higher that ratio, the more wealthy and confident you probably feel if you are anywhere near average (and many aren’t, of course).
In 1999–2000 and again in 2006–2007, the ratio was near a peak, and people felt good. The good feelings didn’t last. Both times the ratio corrected back below its long-term average.
Source: Gluskin Sheff
And now? The net worth/income ratio is above where it was at those last two cyclical peaks. It could go even higher, too—but not by much, I suspect—and the move down probably won’t be fun.
Whenever it happens, the next downturn will be something new: the first socially networked recession and bear market. It’s hard to believe now, but Facebook and Twitter were both just infants in 2007. Smartphones were still a high-end luxury item, too.
We are now tied together in ways we were not back then. Those connections will make the experience quite different, so it’s worth talking about networks.
* * *
Since 2001, investors have turned to his Thoughts from the Frontline to be informed about what’s really going on in the economy. Join thousands of readers, and get it free in your inbox every week.
This week’s interview is Head of Client Services at Astound Commerce, Ben Rainbow.
Let’s find out what his days look like…
(Before we get down to it, remember if you’re looking for a new role yourself to check out the Econsultancy jobs board.)
Econsultancy: Please describe your job: What do you do?
Ben Rainbow: Astound Commerce is a digital commerce agency which provides strategy, technology, creative and interactive marketing services for many of the world’s leading brands and retailers. As Head of Client Services, I’m responsible for making sure all of our customers are receiving the best possible service. I ensure our customers have ongoing support, that their websites are performing well and, with larger projects, manage new integrations. I do get involved with pitches but my role is mostly geared towards post-launch.
E: Whereabouts do you sit within the organisation? Who do you report to?
BR: I report directly into Terry Hunter, our MD. My team is one of five main streams within Astound: marketing, technical delivery, commercial and existing customers; new business; and creative. All of the department heads report into Terry.
E: What kind of skills do you need to be effective in your role?
BR: An ability to juggle multiple balls at the same time! One minute I might be managing new projects, and the next I’ll be communicating with prospects and existing customers or answering queries from the team. It’s a very varied role so skills like agility, being well organised, and keeping on top of everything are essential!
People skills are also a must. My role involves making sure customers are happy, whilst also working behind the scenes with our technical teams, banging the drum and making sure everyone in the team knows what they are doing.
E: Tell us about a typical working day…
BR: I could probably provide seven or eight versions of a ‘typical’ day. Yesterday, for example, I was with a customer doing three different workshops. We were discussing a B2B platform for the UK, another for the US, as well as a separate ongoing project.
My day is pretty consultative, so could involve business reviews, identifying new projects and opportunities, roadmap planning sessions, technical reviews and recommending new approaches which would benefit customers – like integrating a new loyalty programme. I’ll also have several informal catch-up meetings with different customers over the course of a week.
E: What do you love about your job? What sucks?
BR: I love the variety as every day is different and no two days are the same. There’s always something going on and always new things to learn about. I also enjoy the analytical side of my role and getting deep into the detail; looking at website conversions and sales figures, checking how sites are performing and the tiny nuances that affect things.
I wish I had more time to spend with customers, as getting to know them on a personal and professional level is great. Working together to launch or enhance a website has a really rewarding side to it, as we get to see our customers doing well, they appreciate the work and are delighted by the results!
The worst side of my job? Dealing with the challenges which, working in tech, is very much the nature of the industry. Saying that, this is also where the enjoyment originates – I love finding creative ways to manage challenges, and doing so as quickly as possible.
E: What kind of goals do you have? What are the most useful metrics and KPIs for measuring success?
BR: When we put a platform live, the goals are clearly defined: it’s the conversions, average basket spend and revenue. Those metrics are the things our customers measure us on and they all have positive stories to tell.
To see those metrics increase on day one of a launch is amazing, and something not many companies can compete with. Our last client launch in November, saw a significant increase in sales on day one, something we see time and time again.
E: What are your favourite tools to help you to get the job done?
BR: We have a team in Kiev, in Colombia and in the US, so reliable, real-time communication is essential. I’m available 24/7 via email, Slack and Skype. I maintain a really strong relationship with all of our global workforce, including going over to Kiev five or six times a year, as well as taking customers out to meet the team so they can see who they’re working with.
E: How did you get into ecommerce, and where might you go from here?
BR: I’ve been involved in the ecommerce industry in some way for for almost ten years. I’ve been with Astound for nearly two years and before this I was working with another digital commerce agency.
I got into the ecommerce sector when I was approached by a recruiter, who set up a meeting to introduce me to Terry, the now MD of Astound. Instantly, I knew I was going be working for the right person. Terry sold ecommerce, he sold the dream. There are a lot of bosses out there who sell these things and then don’t deliver, but Terry is the reason I’m in digital commerce. If it wasn’t for him I probably wouldn’t have moved into the industry.
And now? I love working for a digital commerce agency and I love the ecommerce industry. Astound is a great fast paced company to work for, Terry really looks after his staff, and you get a great buzz from working in a thriving office.
E: Which ecommerce websites do you admire?
BR: The Boux Avenue site is second to none. I’m not a customer of the brand but this was one of Astound’s projects, so I can appreciate what a great site it is. The customer journey is impeccable and everything a shopper would want; the brand hooks you in, gets you browsing, helps you quickly find what you want, you add it to the basket, and you’re done – in two or three minutes. It makes the journey so easy.
Other great sites and successful projects have included FatFace, which is really beautifully designed. It’s creative and very strong from a UX perspective.
I also think the Musto website is great. It is very easy to navigate and has a clean aesthetic.
E: Do you have any advice for people who want to get into ecommerce?
BR: First and foremost, ecommerce isn’t as complicated as people make out. A lot of people think ecommerce is a complex beast, with so many streams to it and so much complexity around the sites. The key thing is doing the basics right – once the fundamentals are handled, you can enhance and improve them. The people who are doing it well, are doing the basics really well.
There are probably two easy routes into ecommerce: project management and business analytics. Once in ecommerce, people tend to stay for a long time. With some of the roles at Astound, we offer professional development through a buddy scheme, and similarly, lots of companies will take people on at a trainee level.
For my role, it’s experience that counts. I am where I am today because of five years of experience, looking after teams of account managers, transferring skills, and picking up technologies as I go along.
Ecommerce isn’t all about high tech though. Whichever role or entry point you choose, you’ll be in a an interesting and fun industry, where there’s constant change and always a lot going on.
This week the entire cryptocurrency market hit a year low and closely scraped going under the $250 billion mark.
Many speculate that the reason for this week’s dip is due to the Bitcoin futures, but the impact the futures have on the greater market remains a mystery to most.
Most coins within the top 100 are in the green today, let’s take a look at a few that are outperforming the rest.
It was just announced that the tech giant IBM (NYSE:IBM) have begun getting serious about cryptocurrency and more specifically expanding its partnership with Stellar. The partnership was made public last October, and currently, IBM is running nine Stellar nodes. These nodes are used for cross-border payment trials across the U.S, Australia, Brazil, and China.
Jesse Lund, IBM’s new head of blockchain development, spoke to Coin Desk and said:
“We’re seeing tons of demand for digital asset issuance across the board. What’s happening is there’s this emergence of a new segment that could actually be one of the biggest segments, that is a permissioned but public blockchain network typology.”
That being said, IBM remains open to working with various blockchain projects rather than just putting all its eggs on the Stellar network.
This announcement by Lund seems to have caused XLM’s price to shoot up. At press time, XLM is trading at $0.213 a coin, up 16.04%. Stellar is leading the top cryptocurrencies for the most price gains on the market today.
There is no new news on Cardano, except the fact that its next upgrade is just weeks away. If you’ve invested in ADA but haven’t done your research on the project itself and its roadmap. I highly recommend you read my article linked below.
At press time, ADA is trading at $0.156 a coin, up 9.42%, in 24 hours.
Just recently, John McAfee, the creator of the McAfee software just went on a rant via Twitter about his support for Ethereum.
Here’s what I find funny: Ethereum is trashed more than any currency, and yet no currency is more necessary and central due to It’s smart contract platform that is used by more than 50% of all new altcoins. It’s like everyone values water, but not the containers it is carried in.
— John McAfee (@officialmcafee) March 29, 2018
The price of the cryptocurrency has dropped to around $400 recently, and a lot of its movement stems from speculation. Still, Ethereum hit above the $1,000 mark in days, and its price lift back above that mark is possible.
While the new generation of cryptocurrencies are steadily on the long-time dApp platform’s tail, you can’t deny that Ethereum’s smart contracts haven’t been used by more than 50% of these new projects. All of the games built on the blockchain that have made millions, are built on Ethereum.
The developers on the Ethereum network remain hard at work on solutions for the ongoing scaling issue.
At press time, ETH is trading at $403.84 a coin, up 7.02%, in 24 hours.
Featured Image: Byers
Submitted by Alex Deluce of Gold Telegraph
Gold prices hit a five-week high of $1,351.20 per ounce last Monday amidst reports of escalating threat of a trade war between the US and China, forcing investors rush to the safe haven gold. The gold prices also rallied on the back of Goldman Sachs analysts turning bullish on the yellow metal for the first time in over five years. The price increase was also fuelled by the appointment of John Bolton as the new national security adviser by Donald Trump, as the new adviser is considered a foreign policy “hawk”, accentuating geopolitical tensions.
The recent upsurge in gold prices is also attributed to the United States’ expulsion of 60 Russian diplomats for a nerve agent attack on a former Russian spy in Britain. Though the precious metal is always considered as the “go-to asset class” during times of political upheaval, it will be interesting to see whether the recent precipitous slide in the stock market will further fuel the surge in gold prices.
Four fundamental attributes of gold in a portfolio
Before we dwell deep into the relationship between stock prices and the yellow metal, let us consider how gold is positioning itself as a must-have in anyone’s portfolio, including large institutional investors.
First gold can be considered as a true and effective diversifier, particularly during times when other asset classes witness heightened volatility. Though other asset classes such as broad commodities, real estate, hedge funds were claimed to be a true diversifier, they failed to pass the test during the 2008-2009 financial crisis, as prices in all these asset classes dropped in tandem with stocks and other risky assets. However, gold has been consistently proved to be a real diversifier both during times of economic expansion and contraction:
Second, gold has been providing consistent returns over an extended period of time. The yellow metal’s price increased by an average of 10 percent per year since 1971.
Gold’s performance would be more pronounced during volatile times. For instance, during the recent stock market sell-off on February 5th, the yellow metal rallied strongly and posted higher returns than the short term treasuries:
Gold’s effectiveness in times of uncertainty was evident last month when the yellow metal turned out to be one of the best-performing asset classes year-to-date, outperforming even treasuries and corporate bonds:
Third, gold offers immense liquidity as it is traded in large global markets. According to World Gold Council Report, the precious metal clocks anywhere between $150 billion and $220 billion worth of trades per day through spot and derivative contracts over-the-counter. As gold offers both size and liquidity, the yellow metal figures among the strategic holding for large buy-and-hold institutional investors:
Fourthly, gold buttresses portfolio performance through enhanced risk-adjusted returns. Data points for the 10-year period from 2006 reveal, by adding even 2% in gold, one could have achieved enhanced returns with reduced volatility, resulting in higher risk-adjusted returns. The following graph highlights how someone having higher risk in his portfolio can achieve enhanced risk-adjusted portfolio returns by allocating a higher portion to gold, as the yellow metal offset the risk from other asset classes.
Why Gold Now?
Gold posted record gain of 30 percent in 2010 and since then the price of gold just showed some technical rebounds, with its price hovering in the tight range of $1,050 to $1,350 over the past few years.
On February 5th, stock markets witnessed one of the most substantial drops in recent years, while gold rallied strongly on that day. This scenario revived strong view that gold can deliver strong returns and reduce portfolio risk when the prices of other asset classes drop precipitously. It is felt in the present backdrop of a strong correction in the stock market, rising inflation, geopolitical unrest and the likely end to the low-interest rate regime; gold would turn out to be the go-to-asset class to preserve wealth.
Amidst the recent geopolitical unrest emanating from US-China trade war and expulsion of Russian diplomats, there are lots of headwinds pointing towards gold. Historical data reveal gold’s correlation to stocks typically becomes more negative during market pullbacks. The “pet rock” turned out to be more effective as a hedge when a market correction has been broader as witnessed during Black Monday, the 2008-2009 financial crisis, and the European Sovereign Debt crisis:
Gold has also proved to be a hedge against inflation. It has been shown that over a long period, gold returns have outpaced the US Consumer Price Index. As is evident from the following chart, in years when inflation has been higher than 3%, on average gold prices have increased by over 14%.
Gold demand has grown considerably during the recent past thanks to economic development witnessed in emerging markets, especially China and India and advent of exchange-traded products offering lower cost of ownership of gold. Investors’ attitude towards gold changed after the 2008-2009 financial crisis, as they started showing increasing interest in gold as risk management tool. Various central banks, led by emerging markets too have expanded foreign reserves, resulting in increased net gold demand.
Echoing positive sentiment, the World Gold Council in its 2017 Annual Review forecast four themes would drive gold demand in 2018. The four identified factors are:
- strong growth in global economy,
- rising interest rates,
- frothy asset prices, and
- market transparency such as the launching of LME precious by London Metal Exchange facilitating the efficient transaction in London wholesale market.
During the post-crisis era, investors have been uttering “Tina” implying “There is no alternative” to investing in equities since bond yields have offered limited yield or income. However, following gradual interest rate hike by the Fed, the three-month Treasury bill yield rose to 1.66%, just trailing the current US equity dividend yield of 1.88%. Similarly, for the first time since late 2008, the 3-month Libor rate rose last month above the dividend yield and is surging.
As the stock market turning more volatile and geopolitical tensions escalating each day, global investors would look at gold as an able ally to their preserve wealth. Hence, 2018 could turn out to be the “perfect storm” for gold.
In a market with Netflix, Amazon Prime Instant Video and plenty of other over-the-top and pay-TV services, Now TV obviously has its work cut out to compete.
Owners Sky have backed the service with a range of advertising and product innovation, leading to impressive recent growth figures; adding nearly 50% to its subscriber numbers in the 12 months to Q4 2017 (1.5m total).
I went out to purchase a Now TV Smart Box in the UK to see how their multichannel marketing efforts and customer experience (CX) are working. In this article I’ll look at retail partnerships, in-store marketing, the unboxing and signup experience, email and app UX, and creative and branding throughout.
What is it?
For the uninitiated, Now TV is Sky’s ‘free sat’ offering and its answer to cheaper subscriptions like Amazon Prime and Netflix. There’s a plug-and-go set-top box, HDMI stick and app for your devices. Content includes the usual free streaming services as well as the option to buy passes for Sky entertainment, sports and movies that are usually only available via contract.
Online and in-store retail partnerships
Now TV has made a clear land grab for traditional retail in the UK, bundling up to six month subscriptions with laptops and devices in Currys PC World and Tesco.
The brand also appears next to a celebrating Cristiano Ronaldo in FIFA 18 and other PS4 packs in Game (which include a Now TV sub), and on a range of Xbox deals.
Netflix have tried a similar approach. Pixelbook and Chromebook buyers could get a free six month subscription last Christmas, but there is no ever-present retail offer on the high street.
Here some proper store merchandising isn’t ignored either. Walk into most tech stores and Now TV is likely to be very prominent with displays, decals and the like. There are over 11 million households with terrestrial-only TV in the UK. Now TV is banking on that demographic walking into a brick-and-mortar store and looking to switch to an affordable streaming service.
The old-fashioned voucher, reinvented
The Now TV passes were a subtle innovation to support this retail partner approach – physical artefacts that can be bundled with just about anything that’s able to connect to WiFi. It literally falls out of the box, daring the customer to throw it away.
Granted, this is a step away from the fait accompli of pre-installed apps, but it’s a more flexible approach for a range of retail with a clear opportunity to communicate with the consumer at several stages, pre- and post-purchase.
And by using the passes as a cornerstone of their branding and advertising, Now TV has carved a strong niche for the idea of flexible, no-contract service. The passes are at the heart of their latest adverts and feature even before the real content of sports, movies, and shows people want to watch.
Brand and CX consistency
From the store to the sofa, there is impressive and reassuring continuity.
The TV interface looks like the packaging; it directs me to an online sign up page which is expecting me and uses the same language; the confirmation email I get looks like the tiles on my TV and points me to things I can binge watch now; and by the time I download the mobile app it looks like an old friend.
Now TV television interface versus mobile app
There is clear attention to detail throughout. Navigation and menus are always on the left. The colour palette is consistent. There are never any superfluous menu options or visuals I’m not expecting. The ‘3 simple steps for sign up’ become ‘3 ways to make the most of your pass’ as you move through the setup process (see emails below).
Individually these tactics are not new but seeing them all strung together within an hour of leaving a store with a box under my arm feels like an excellent CX.
Quantity and tone of email
Despite the variety of passes and cross-sell opportunities I clearly represent, I’m not bombarded with email marketing on sign up. Five days after activation, I have received one email only.
Even this message is apologetic and explains that ‘we want you to make the most out of your pass, so look out for a few more messages from us over the next couple of weeks’.
There is commitment here to the tone throughout the rest of the multichannel experience. I’ve been sold something with no strings attached, no obligation, and a clear offer. What I don’t want is a siloed email marketing department to get hold of my details and then run amok. This is especially important given the significant portion of the free sat market in particular which are moving from terrestrial TV and may prefer low volume contact and expect less ‘sales’.
In keeping with the multichannel integration, from the email I’m told I can also add suggested shows directly to the watchlist on both my TV and the app.
(Click to enlarge)
Sense of fun
Now TV is also notable for its departure from the cool, Apple-originated feel of its tech brand rivals. It’s clear how much of a sense of fun they’ve tried to inject into the product – take a look at the start-up screen on the Now TV app for example.
This approach is a clear point of difference in the market. If you’re buying a device for example, it’s up against the Chromecast (see more staid branding below) and Fire TV Stick.
Leading on media content, with flexible campaigns
Much of the competition in media streaming is built around quality of content. All services lean on this heavily in their advertising, and for a while NOW TV has been able to rely on wistful shots of John Snow next to their Entertainment passes.
Now TV is also being nimble with targeted campaigns around specific, sometime niche content. Take the recent Oscars ceremony; Now TV ran a range of content around watching the ceremony, tied in to the Sky Cinema Oscars collection. It’s easy for customers to use their 14 day free trial to access event TV and media (as picked up by the press looking for search traffic – see Sun article below), and Sky hopes to hook you in for longer later.
The same nous is used to make the media content fresh in-app, and keep the service sticky. On International Women’s day I was served a new ‘Wonder women’ category in movies and entertainment.
Not forgetting some aggressive TV advertising (and platform sharing)
And I haven’t yet mentioned perhaps the most aggressive channel for Now TV which is TV advertising. You’ll have seen advertising for passes backed by the might of the Sky machine, but there are also plans to build the routes to customers.
BT and Sky have recently agreed a channel sharing deal, so you’ll soon be able to get Now TV on your BT box and most likely be cross-sold both parties exclusive content. It’s also been announced that the Netflix app will be launched on both Sky boxes and Now TV in the UK, with Germany, Austria and Italy to follow.
The lines between competition and partnership are blurry in this market and with all players likely to have their hits and misses with new shows, the role of good multi-channel CX is crucial to both differentiate for new customers and for retention.
If you are traveling anytime soon, Brittany Castro shares these AWESOME travel tips that you can use to save money. They’re easy, fun, and you can use them no matter where you are traveling.
Are you searching for your dream home, and in the market for a realtor? The power is in your hands with this website where realtors compete for your business. You end up saving money.
View at DailyMotion
As Israel inches ever-closer to an all-out war against Hezbollah in Syria (a war that could expand to encompass southern Lebanon), the IDF this week also mercilessly crushed yet another massive Hamas-organized border protest in Gaza, deploying drones to shower thousands of demonstrators with tear gas while firing live rounds and rubber-coated steel pellets into the crowd. By the time yesterday’s border clashes had ended, at least 15 Palestinians were dead and over 500 were wounded.
Of course, a spokesman for the IDF – a Brig. Gen. Ronen Manelis – denied allegations of excessive use of force. He said the men killed by the IDF belonged to a violent, militant faction of Hamas, and that several dozen people – at most – were injured by live fire while the rest were merely impacted by the tear gas and other crowd-control responses. Gaza’s Shifa Hospital received 284 injured people Friday – most of them with bullet wounds. Of those, 70 were under the age of 18. And 11 were women, per the Associated Press.
Already Saturday, several hundred people returned to the five makeshift tent encampments several hundred meters from the border; the encampments were meant to be a launch point for the marches. But if demonstrators try to rush the border fence again, Manelis said Israel would have no choice but to “expand” its response beyond the border area – echoing the extremely deadly assault unleashed on Gaza City during the summer of 2014. That episode left nearly 2,000 Palestinians dead. Of those, nearly 500 were civilians, per AP.
He said that Hamas and other Gaza militant groups are using protests as a cover for staging attacks. If violence continues, “we will not be able to continue limiting our activity to the fence area and will act against these terror organizations in other places too,” he said.
Indeed, just like during the runup to the IDF’s Operation Protective Edge, the IDF labeled Palestinians efforts to “breach” the border fence “organized terrorist operations.”
Sure enough, on Saturday Israeli troops fired warning shots toward Palestinian youths gathered at the Gaza-Israel border on Saturday, wounding 13 people, health officials said according to Reuters.
And, as we previewed last week, it is only a matter of time before Israel decides to retaliate not on the border but inside the Gaza Strip itself, potentially sparking yet another regional war.
“We won’t let this turn into a ping-pong zone where they perpetrate a terrorist act and we respond with pinpoint action. If this continues we will not have no choice but to respond inside the Gaza Strip,” Manelis told reporters in a phone briefing.
Separately, during a series of tweets, an IDF spokesperson said the army is “only interested in terrorists who are trying to disrupt Israeli life; we only act against them.” The army also claimed that “nothing was carried out uncontrolled” and that the IDF “knows where every bullet landed.” The IDF also touted its successful thwarting of an infiltration attempt by three terrorists in northern Gaza.
Curiously, those tweets by the Israeli army were then swiftly deleted.
‘We know where every bullet landed’, Tweeted the Israeli army. ‘Nothing was carried out uncontrolled’. Bullets which killed 15 Palestinian demonstrators and wounded 1,400. They’ve since deleted their admittance of guilt #Gaza https://t.co/1U3EXgl7Jf pic.twitter.com/tgPuOTiGrQ
— Joseph Willits (@josephwillits) March 31, 2018
Friday’s demonstrations were meant to be part of a six-week long campaign calling for a “right of return” for Palestinian refugees to what is now Israel. The protests are set to culminate in May when Israel celebrates the 70th anniversary of its independence – a day that Palestinians call Nakba (catastrophe) day.
The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is calling for an “independent” investigation of what happened on Friday. The UN Security Council urged restraint on both sides following the clashes, but didn’t decide on any concrete actions.
Since seizing control of Gaza back in 2007 and splitting with the more moderate Fatah party, Hamas has been involved with several deadly clashes with the IDF, as a border blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt has made it increasingly more difficult for Hamas to govern.