Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas has called for children to be kept away from the protests on the Gaza border, citing the risk of children being shot, according to the Jerusalem Post.
Some 45 Palestinians have been killed in the past five weeks of demonstrations as part of the Great March or Return, with some 5,511 others injured, including at least 592 children.
Keep the children away. We do not want to become a people of disabilities. We will go out, protest and do everything, but it is not necessary to send [the children] to the [fence] to be shot and killed
Abbas said in a speech yesterday at a meeting of the Palestinian National Council.
“I don’t want the upcoming generation to be a handicapped generation,” he said, referring to the dozens of reports that Israel has been targeting protesters in their knees and legs, suggesting intent to disable them for life.
Gaza doctors have noted the severity of many of the injuries caused by Israeli forces; over 1,700 people have been injured as a result of live fire, causing wounds not seen since Israel’s “Operation Protective Edge” in 2014.
Last week, 12-year-old Abdel Rahman Nawfal lost his left leg after being shot by Israeli forces while he was near the border with his friends. The bullet exploded below his knee, causing irreparable damage to the tissue. Despite being taken to two hospitals in Gaza, before being transferred to the West Bank for treatment, doctors were unable to save his leg and were forced to amputate the limb.
Nawfal told reporters from his bed in Ramallah that he hoped to become a doctor and would still like to try and work towards that goal.
The Palestinian Ministry of Sport further revealed on Sunday that Israeli occupation forces have shot and wounded some 30 Palestinian athletes in the Gaza Strip; some have also had to have their limbs amputated, including 17-year-old Attallah Fayoumi who had dreamt of becoming a football player.
The ministry went on to call on the international community and human rights groups to stand up for and “protect Palestinian youth, children and women”.
Israel has claimed that Hamas is using the protests as a cover to launch attacks against the border fence and that civilians are being used as human shields, however no evidence has been provided to verify this.
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.