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.
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.
The Humanitarian Coordinator, Mr. Jamie McGoldrick, today called for urgent support to meet the humanitarian needs of victims of violence in Gaza. “The situation in Gaza is devastating and the crisis is far from over,” said Mr. McGoldrick. “For every person killed and injured this week and those before, there is a family and a network of friends affected,” he continued. “For many, especially those who lost a loved one, who will now suffer a permanent disability or who will need intensive rehabilitation, the impacts of recent violence will be felt for months and years to come.”
Today, as of 20:00, two Palestinians were reported killed by Israeli forces in Gaza, and 417 injured, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health (MoH), during demonstrations near the perimeter fence. Although today’s protests were originally announced as the culmination of the ‘Great March of Return’ protests which began on 30 March, there are indications that the demonstrations may continue until 5 June.
Today’s protests along Israel’s perimeter fence with Gaza have resulted in the highest number of both fatalities and injuries since the ‘Great March of Return’ began on 30 March. As of 20:30, 55 Palestinians were reported killed by Israeli forces, including six children (one female), according to the Ministry of Health (MoH) in Gaza. Among the fatalities was one health worker, in addition to others killed by Israeli shells in unclear circumstances. Some 2,771 people were reported injured, including 1,359 by live ammunition, with 130 people in a critical condition, according to the MoH. The UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, has expressed his profound alarm at the “sharp escalation of violence” and the “high number of Palestinians killed and injured in the Gaza protests”.
The Humanitarian Coordinator, Mr. Jamie McGoldrick, today called for the protection of Palestinians, particularly children and health workers, in the context of demonstrations taking place in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) and for demonstrators to refrain from actions that prevent the functioning of the main entry point for humanitarian goods to the Gaza Strip.
Humanitarian agencies operating in the Gaza Strip warned today that a prolonged closure of the Kerem Shalom crossing, Gaza’s almost exclusive point for the entry of goods, may exacerbate the already dire situation of services and livelihoods.