Palestinians prepare for more mass protests

Saturday, 14 Apr, 2018

A Palestinian was killed and more than 200 others wounded during clashes with Israeli troops as thousands gathered in protest along the Gaza-Israel border.

The Palestinian health ministry in Gaza confirmed that a Palestinian was killed and another man was seriously wounded in the strike early on Thursday.

The five representatives issued a statement urging Palestinians to demonstrate nonviolently and Israeli soldiers "to refrain from shooting live ammunition at unarmed Palestinian protesters from hundreds of meters away, across the fence separating the two territories".

Abu Hussein was immediately transferred in critical condition to the Indonesian Hospital in Jabalya for treatment, according to Palestinian journalist Moneeb Saada, news reports, and social media posts. The IDF said several attempts to "harm or breach the security infrastructure" along the border had taken place, including the detonation of an explosive device near the disused crossing point at Karni, and the throwing of firebombs.

He said Hamas should not pursue a violent "struggle against Israel", but emphasised that Israel's "continuing control of Gaza's air, sea, and northern, southern, and eastern borders, and its restrictions on the freedom of movement of people, legitimate goods and equipment in and out of Gaza, have made the humanitarian situation worse".

The Israeli army responded with gunfire and riot-dispersal means, it said. Among those hurt was a Gaza journalist who was shot in the abdomen, the officials said.

Today's march has been named "protest to burn the Israeli flag and hoist the Palestinian flag".

Rights groups say Israel's open-fire regulations are unlawful because soldiers can use potentially lethal force against unarmed protesters.

Israel says it is doing what it must to defend its border, and to stop any of the rioters getting across the fence.

Refugees have a universally recognized right to return to their places of origin, but Israel has denied this right to the over five million Palestinians who are now living as refugees in Gaza, the West Bank and countries around the world after fleeing from cities like Jaffa in the context of violence. Some of those killed were militants, the Israeli army said.

The Great Return March will draw to a close with a final day of protest on May 15, seven decades since Israel's formation in what Palestinians call the "Nakba" (Catastrophe). "Your country would do the same", an Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Twitter.

Palestinians gathered for the third consecutive on Friday at the Gaza-Israel border fence for what was labelled Burning the Flag of Israel Day.

Others hurled stones and burning tyres near the frontier fence, where Israeli army sharpshooters are deployed.

Israel has accused Hamas of using the protests as a cover for carrying out attacks and bringing infiltrators into Israel.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) was the first member of Congress to condemn Israel's response to the protests in a pair of tweets late last month.

"We want to live like everyone else in the world", he said. It has said that soldiers fire live bullets as a last resort, in a "precise and measured manner".

Hamas officials had said in recent days they wanted this week's protest to see less bloodshed and hoped to keep momentum building for May 14, when the United States is expected to move its Israel embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.