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.
In April, a total of 44 Palestinian-owned structures were demolished or seized by the Israeli authorities in the West Bank, an increase compared to the monthly average during the first quarter of 2018 (33 structures) and during 2017 (35 structures). However, given that the majority of the targeted structures were non-residential or not inhabited, the number of people displaced during April (13) significantly declined, while the number of people who had their livelihoods and access services affected (584), increased compared to the first quarter of 2018.
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.”
Since 30 March 2018, the Gaza Strip has witnessed an enormous increase in Palestinian casualties in the context of mass demonstrations taking place along Israel’s perimeter fence with Gaza. The demonstrations have occurred as part of the ‘Great March of Return’, a series of mass protests, expected to continue up to 5 June. The large number of casualties among unarmed Palestinian demonstrators, including a high percentage of demonstrators hit by live ammunition, has raised concerns about excessive use of force by Israeli troops. Gaza's health sector is struggling to cope with the mass influx of casualties, due to years of blockade, internal divide and a chronic energy crisis, which have left essential services in Gaza barely able to function.
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.
Longstanding restrictions on the movement of people and goods to and from Gaza have undermined the living conditions of approximately two million Palestinians in that area. Many of the current restrictions, originally imposed by Israel in the early 1990s, were intensified after June 2007, following the Hamas takeover of Gaza and the imposition of a blockade. These restrictions continue to reduce access to livelihoods, essential services and housing, disrupt family life, and undermine people’s hopes for a secure and prosperous future. The situation has been compounded by the restrictions imposed since June 2013 by the Egyptian authorities at Rafah Crossing, which had become the main crossing point used by Palestinian passengers in the Gaza Strip, given the restrictions on the Israeli-controlled crossings.
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”.
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.
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.
Mass demonstrations along Israel’s perimeter fence with Gaza took place again today for the seventh consecutive Friday, as part of the ‘Great March of Return’. As of 20:00, a Palestinian man was reported killed by Israeli forces, and, according to the Ministry of Health (MoH) in Gaza, 973 people were injured, of whom 38 per cent required hospitalization; 176 of those injured were hit by live ammunition and 10 are reported to be in a critical condition.