Thousands of Palestinians protest at Gaza-Israel border, one dead
14 April, 2018, 11:57 | Author: Priscilla Morrison
- Thousands of Palestinians, some burning Israeli flags and torching tires, staged a mass protest on Gaza's sealed border with Israel for a third consecutive Friday, as part of a pressure campaign to break a decade-old blockade of their territory.
Limited clashes between stone-throwing Palestinians and Israeli soldiers began in at least two places along the border, AFP reporters said, with larger protests expected after Friday Muslim prayers.
Gaza's Health Ministry said more than 1,300 Palestinians were wounded by live fire in the past two weeks. Israeli forces have killed 33 Palestinians and wounded hundreds of others since protests that began on March 30 and have led to clashes.
There were so far fewer protesters on Friday than in the two previous demonstrations, which saw tens of thousands gather near the border with Israel at five locations.
Smaller groups moved closer to the fence, throwing stones, torching tyres and burning large Israeli flags.
IDF troops are responding with riot dispersal means and are firing in accordance with the rules of engagement.
Even the marches are coordinated by Gaza's Islamic militant Hamas, however, turnout is also becoming pushed by desperation among the 2 million taxpayers of the territory.
One of the Palestinians was in critical condition, Palestinian medics said, as a protest dubbed "The Great March of Return" moved into its third week.
The Israeli government accuses Hamas, the Islamist movement that has ruled Gaza largely since Israeli soldiers and settlers withdrew in 2005, of having instigated the protests and of using them as cover to launch attacks.
Rights groups have described the Israeli military's open-fire regulations as unlawful, saying they permit soldiers to use potentially lethal force against unarmed protesters.
On Friday, hundreds flocked to one of five camps near Gaza City, stepping on a large Israeli flag laid out on the ground at the entrance.
Sumaya Abu Awad, 36, who attended the protest with her three daughters and son, said, "I am not afraid of death because there is no life in Gaza already". "If we are going to die, then let it not be in vain", said Ahmed, who refused to give his full name, fearing Israeli reprisals.
Conricus said Friday that the military is trying to minimize Palestinian casualties, but hadn't changed open-fire regulations.
The Israeli military has displayed video footage in which the frontier fence is seen being cut and breached during the recent clashes, with, Israel says, explosives planted there to target its troops. It has said that soldiers fire live bullets as a last resort, in a "precise and measured manner".
Another Israeli group, Breaking The Silence, published a statement by five former snipers in the Israeli military who said they were "filled with shame and sorrow" over the recent incidents in Gaza.
The planned six-week protest has revived a longstanding demand for the right of return of Palestinian refugees to towns and villages from which their families fled, or were driven out, when the state of Israel was created 70 years ago.
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UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the European Union have called for an independent investigation into the violence. The protests, dubbed "The March of Return", have resulted in confrontations between Palestinians and Israeli troops.
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