Israeli forces killed a Palestinian man and injured nearly 170 today as thousands of Gazans protested on the last Friday before the US embassy moves to Jerusalem and the 70th anniversary of the Nakba next week.
Demonstrations this week were once again met with violence from Israeli forces who fired live ammunition, rubber bullets and tear gas canisters at protesters participating in the Great March of Return.
Jabir Abu Mustafa became the latest victim of Israel’s heavy handed response to the unarmed demonstrators. The 40-year-old was killed while protesting east of Khan Yunis in southern Gaza, medics said.
At least 48 people have been injured as of 4pm local time according to the Palestinian Red Crescent, including at least two journalists, one of whom was identified as Yasser Qudah who was clearly wearing a vest marked “PRESS”. At least 16 people have been hit with live ammunition.
Israeli police also reported on social media that three Israelis had been arrested after trying to fly kites into Gaza to set lands there on fire.
Palestinians dubbed today the “Friday of Preparation and Foreboding” ahead of the US moving its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on Monday. The Palestinian Authority has announced that Monday will be a Day of Rage, calling on Palestinians to protest against the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Tuesday will also see demonstrations as the Great March of Return culminates on the 70th anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba (Catastrophe), in which more than 750,000 Palestinians were forcibly displaced by Israeli forces in 1948 Arab-Israeli war.
Over 6,800 Gazans have been wounded during the demonstrations and at least 49 people have been killed by Israeli forces over the past six weeks.
Concerns have also been raised over the type of wounds being caused by Israeli forces; over 2,000 people have been wounded as a result of live fire, with Israeli forces using the “butterfly bullet” that explodes after becoming lodged in the victim, resulting in irreparable damage to the tissue. Gaza doctors say they have not seen such severe wounds since Israel’s “Operation Protective Edge” in 2014.
Protests have also been held elsewhere in the world in solidarity with the Palestinian people, including in Indonesia and Turkey. A demonstration is also scheduled to take place outside the Israeli embassy in London later today.
The Israeli army’s disproportionate use of force during the protests has drawn international criticism and calls for an independent probe – which Israel has rejected. Earlier today, international NGO Save the Children condemned the army’s targeting of Palestinian minors in Gaza, noting that out of more than 700 wounded children, at least 250 had been hit by live bullets.
However, earlier this week reports surfaced which suggested that the Israeli military has made limited changes to its open fire regulations for soldiers on the border after the first two weeks of the protests, which began on 30 March, following a “very high” death toll amongst Palestinian demonstrators at the hands of Israeli snipers.
Despite the deaths of two journalists and the injury of some 70 others by Israeli forces, the head of the Palestinian Government Information Office in Gaza, Salama Marouf, announced this week that there had been a “notable” increase in the number of foreign journalists visiting Gaza since the start of the Great March of Return.