Palestinians in Gaza are ‘locked in’, denied free access to the remainder of the occupied Palestinian territory and the outside world. Movement restrictions imposed by Israel since the early 1990’s and intensified in June 2007, following the takeover of Gaza by Hamas, have severely undermined the living conditions. The isolation of Gaza has been exacerbated by restrictions imposed by the Egyptian authorities on its single passengers crossing (Rafah), as well as by the internal Palestinian divide. The UN Secretary-General has found that the blockade and related restrictions contravene international humanitarian law as they target and impose hardship on the civilian population, effectively penalizing them for acts they have not committed. Major escalations of hostilities in the past years have resulted in extensive destruction and internal displacement.
Mass demonstrations along Israel’s perimeter fence with the Gaza Strip took place today for the eleventh consecutive Friday, as part of the ‘Great March of Return’. As of 20:00, Israeli forces killed four Palestinians, including one 15-year-old boy, and injured 618 demonstrators, according to the Ministry of Health (MoH) in Gaza. 254 of the injuries were transferred to hospitals, including 117 due to live ammunition injuries, according to the Ministry of Health (MoH) in Gaza. Eight are said to be in a critical condition. One Israeli soldier was also reportedly lightly injured. Today’s casualty toll was the highest since the demonstrations on 14 May, when over 60 Palestinians were killed and 2,000 injured, the highest casualty toll in the Gaza Strip in a single day since the 2014 hostilities. For cumulative casualty figures and breakdowns, as of 7 June, see the OCHA Snapshot.
In the wake of the ‘Great March of Return’ demonstrations since 30 March, Gaza’s already overstretched health sector has been struggling to cope with the mass influx of casualties. This burden has exacerbated the long-term shortage of medicines and limited capacities of health facilities, driven by the huge electricity deficit and the ongoing salary crisis affecting government employees, among other reasons.
The findings of a Household Expenditure and Consumption Survey, released by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) in May, show a significant increase in poverty rates in the Gaza Strip: from 38.8 per cent in 2011 (the previous time poverty was measured) to 53 per cent by the end of 2017, which is the equivalent to around 1.01 million people, including over 400,000 children.6 This means that poverty increased by more than 14 percentage points in a period of six years.
Humanitarian Coordinator, WHO, OHCHR and OCHA call for the protection of medical workers. United Nations officials and agencies have expressed their outrage in the face of yesterday’s killing of Razan An Najjar, a 21-year-old female volunteering as a first responder, while carrying out her humanitarian duties with the Palestinian Medical Relief Society (PMRS). Razan was hit by live ammunition fired by Israeli forces while trying, with other first responders, to reach those injured during the ‘Great March of Return’ demonstrations close to Israel’s perimeter fence around 18:30. She was taken immediately to a trauma stabilization point, and then to the European Gaza Hospital, where she died just after 19:00. Three others in her team were also injured.
The ‘Great March of Return’ demonstrations along Israel’s perimeter fence with Gaza took place again today, with the number of demonstrators estimated at around 5,000, similar to the previous week. As of 20:30, Israeli forces have injured 109 demonstrators, of whom 54 were transferred to hospitals, including 23 due to live ammunition injuries, according to the Ministry of Health (MoH) in Gaza.
Today, as of 20:00, Israeli forces injured 56 Palestinians in Gaza, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health (MoH), during demonstrations near the perimeter fence as part of the “Great March of Return.” Although 15 May, the 70th anniversary of what Palestinians refer to as the 1948 “Nakba”, was initially intended to be the culmination of the protests, the demonstrations are now expected to continue at least until 5 June, which commemorates the “Naksa”, when Israel captured the West Bank and Gaza Strip in 1967.