More than 500 injured in latest Gaza protests, Palestinian officials say

14 April, 2018, 10:24 | Author: Sheila Harris
  • More than 500 injured in latest Gaza protests, Palestinian officials say

Gaza health officials said 528 people were hurt, including 122 by Israeli fire, in the third large-scale protest in as many consecutive Fridays. In additions, hundreds of Palestinians have been wounded by Israeli fire since March 30.

Land Day is held in remembrance of an incident in which Israeli forces fatally shot six Palestinians on March 30, 1976, as the Palestinians were protesting Israeli land seizures. "As additional protests are planned for the coming days, the Israel Defense Forces should exercise restraint and respect the rights of Palestinians to peacefully protest". Some have said they intend to use mirrors and lasers to distract Israeli snipers, according to The Jerusalem Post.

But Israel says the militant group Hamas, which dominates Gaza, is orchestrating the demonstrations in order to launch attacks.

Smaller numbers approached the fence, throwing stones and rolling burning tires toward soldiers taking up positions on the other side.

An Israeli military spokesman said troops were being confronted by rioters and responded: "with riot dispersal means while also firing in accordance with the rules of engagement".

In all, 27 protesters were killed and hundreds wounded by army fire since late March.

Jason Greenblatt, the USA envoy to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, said in a statement, "We condemn leaders and protesters who call for violence or who send protesters - including children - to the fence, knowing that they may be injured or killed".

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Israel has accused Gaza's Hamas rulers of using the protests as a cover for attacks and says snipers only target the main "instigators". "In the first two weeks [of the Great Return March], when there were 31 Palestinians killed and more than 1,700 wounded by gunfire, the Israeli military reported zero casualties". Ten paramedics were treated for tear gas inhalation.

Among the wounded is a journalist identified as Ahmad Abu Hussein, who was seriously shot in the abdomen, and Mohammad Najjar, who was shot in the shoulder.

On Friday (Saturday NZT), most of the demonstrators assembled at five tent camps located several hundred metres from the border fence.

Several thousand people gathered Friday at a tent camp east of Gaza City. The Great Return March will draw to a close with a final day of protest on May 15, seven decades since Israel's formation in what Palestinians call the "Nakba" (Catastrophe).

No Israelis have been killed during the protests. This would not have been possible if the organization were linked in any way to Hamas, which the USA and Israel proscribe as a "terrorist" group.

The Israeli rights group B'Tselem said on Friday that open-fire policy must not be dictated by worst case scenarios, such as a feared mass breach of the border.

Outside, at the entrance to the area, a large Israeli flag had been placed on the ground for people to walk over.

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