At least two people have been killed and dozens more have been injured as Israeli forces respond with violence to protests taking place today at the Gaza-Israel border.
The Palestinian Red Crescent has confirmed that some 250 people have been injured, over 100 with live fire, with seven suffering from critical injuries as a result.
The death toll since last Friday currently stands at 24, after 38-year-old Osama Khamis Qdeih and 38-year-old Majdi Ramadan Shabat died in the east of the Strip, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. Earlier today, Thaer Rab’a succumbed to his wounds after being shot by Israeli forces on 30 March.
Tear gas has also been fired at protesters, with some 45 people being transferred to hospital suffering from asphyxiation. Reports from the ground indicate that Israeli forces have also been targeting medics attempting to treat the wounded, choking them with tear gas.
Israeli forces are also quashing solidarity protests in the West Bank. Tear gas was fired at protesters in Hebron according to the Palestinian Wafa news agency, and at least three people were detained in Bethelehem, including one child. Wafa also reported that demonstrations were taking place in the villages of Beita and Kafr Qaddum in the Nablus area.
Israel has deployed additional military forces to the Gaza border in preparation for planned protests today as part of the Great March of Return. Demonstrators are calling for the right of return for Palestinian refugees and their descendants, to what is now Israel.
According to the Israeli Defence Ministry, the rules of engagement during the demonstrations are to remain unchanged, meaning that snipers will be permitted to shoot at anyone who approaches the Gaza side of the fence. Human rights organisations in the country and international groups have criticised this protocol, which they say led to the unjustified killing of unarmed Palestinians.
Israeli rights group B’Tselem, has appealed to Israeli soldiers to refuse any “grossly illegal” orders to fire at unarmed protesters.