Israeli troops again target peaceful protests with live ammunition and tear gas
14 April, 2018, 21:29
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. This statement was submitted to the Israeli Supreme Court, in response to a petition by two injured Palestinians, who were denied passage to a Ramallah hospital, reportedly leading to the amputation of limbs.
The Israeli army has called the protesters "violent rioters and terrorists", and said it was firing only in accordance with its protocols and to prevent damage to Israel's "defense infrastructures".
Israel's army estimated there were 10,000 people "rioting" on Friday, with some attempting to breach the fence with firebombs and explosive devices.
On Friday, groups of youths waved Palestinian flags and burnt hundreds of tyres and Israeli flags near the fenced-off border after Friday prayers.
An explosion in the southern Gaza Strip killed four Palestinians on Saturday, the local health ministry said. "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.
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.
OCHA reported 2,870 Palestinians wounded between 30 March and 11 April.
The numbers of protesters were smaller than in previous weeks, though still substantial and with Gaza's health ministry reporting dozens more Palestinians wounded and one killed by Israeli gunfire.
"We have seen lots of documented evidence on video of Palestinian protesters who were shot when they were in no way posing any imminent threat", says Yousef Munayyer, the executive director of the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights.
One protester was injured in the central Gaza Strip, while another was injured during protests east of Jabaliya in northern Gaza.
The Members of Congress are urging Gaza protesters to carry out their right to assembly nonviolently, while also calling on members of Israel Defense Forces to exercise utmost restraint in the use of deadly force and to fully comply with worldwide law.
Palestinians mourn the event as their "nakba", or catastrophe, when hundreds of thousands were uprooted in the 1948 war over Israel's creation.
Israel has declared a no-go zone close to the Gaza border fence.
Yair Lapid, the leader of Israel's centrist Yesh Atid party, called Hamas a "despicable terror organization" and accused it of exploiting civilians.
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