At least 50 Palestinians have been injured, including at least four journalists, as thousands protested on the Gaza border as part of the fifth week of the Great March of Return.
Some 42 Palestinians have been killed, including at least four children, and some 4,733 others have been injured by Israeli forces over the past month, as tens of thousands of Palestinian refugees come out to demand their collective right of return to their homeland.
The Gazan Ministry of Health and the Palestinian Red Crescent have deployed medical teams across the length of border, some of which has been targeted by Israeli occupation forces with reports of gas canisters fired at tents to the east of Al-Bureij. Gaza health authorities have accused the occupation of deliberately targeting medics, with some 44 wounded over the past month and 19 ambulances attacked.
Journalists Abdul-Rahman Al-Kahulot, Iyad Abu Ghaza, Hassan Yousef and Lana Shaheen are believed to be among those injured today, after being targeted with sniper fire and gas canisters. Israel’s continued targeting of reporters comes just days after the death of Ahmad Abu Hussein, the second journalist to be killed while covering the march after Yaser Murtaja succumbed to his wounds three weeks ago. Both Abu Hussein and Murtaja were wearing vests clearly marked with the word “PRESS”. Some 66 other journalists have been wounded since the march began.
Concerns have also been raised over the type of wounds being caused by Israeli forces; over 1,700 people have been injured as a result of live fire, resulting in injuries of such severity that Gaza doctors say they have not seen Israel’s “Operation Protective Edge” in 2014.
The global NGO Doctors Without Borders said last week that its medical teams were dealing “with devastating injuries of an unusual severity, which are extremely complex to treat. The injuries sustained by patients will leave most with serious, long-term physical disabilities.”
Yesterday Israeli human rights group B’Tselem published a letter which they sent to United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres urging intervention to stop Israeli forces’ use of lethal force against Palestinian protesters in the occupied Gaza Strip.
“These orders are unlawful under both international law and Israeli law. Responsibility for these fatal outcomes rests with the policy makers and – above all – with Israel’s prime minister, defence minister and chief of staff,” it continued.
Israel’s violent response to protests last week, particularly the death of 14-year-old Mohammad Ayoub, who was shot in the head despite being some 150 metres away from the border, caused UN Special Envoy for the Middle East Peace Process Nikolay Mladenov to take to Twitter, angrily demanding Israel “stop shooting at children”.
The planned six-week protest, which began on 30 March marking Palestinian Land Day, is set to end on 15 May – the 70th anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba (Catastrophe), in which more than 750,000 Palestinians were forcibly displaced by Israeli forces in 1948.