UN calls for probe into deaths in Gaza border protest

01 April, 2018, 00:35 | Author: Chad Mckenzie
  • Border Police confiscate a helicopter near the Qalandiya crossing that was stolen by an Israeli settler

Thousands of Palestinians marched to Gaza's border with Israel on Friday, and 15 were killed by Israeli fire on the first day of what Hamas organizers said will be six weeks of daily protests against a stifling border blockade.

The peak of the Gaza protest is supposed to take place May 15, when Palestinians commemorate what they call the Nakba, or catastrophe, the anniversary of Israel's declaration of independence and the 1948 war in which hundreds of thousands of Palestinians lost their homes through flight and expulsion.

About 30,000 of Palestinians marched towards the border that separates Gaza from Israel. "This is the priority of Hamas...to send its security forces to hit [students] with clubs", he wrote. Protests along the border are common, often culminating in young Palestinian men throwing stones at Israeli soldiers who respond with tear gas along with rubber and live bullets. It said more than 750 people were hurt by live rounds.

On Friday, thousands of people attended the funeral of one of the Palestinian victims, identified as Sari Walid Abu Odeh, in the city of Beit Hanoun on the northeast edge of the Gaza Strip.

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The Israeli military said its troops used "riot dispersal means" to quell one of the largest Palestinian demonstrations and outbursts of violence along the border in recent years.

On Friday evening, Gaza's Hamas leaders called on protesters to retreat from the border area until Saturday.

The six-week protest is in support of Palestinian refugees and the timetable holds significance for a range of reasons that have added to tensions.

Abbas further announced that Saturday will be a day of mourning across all the Palestinian territories in memory of those who were killed during the protests. Manelis added that all of the Palestinians who were killed in yesterday's clashes were involved in the violence and attempts to tamper with the border fence.

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Its forces have made clear that anyone approaching, or trying to cross the border will risk their life, but on the other, if the use of force leads to deaths and many injuries, there is an awareness that that could inflame an already combustible situation.

Hamas said five of them were members of its armed wing.

Hamas had earlier urged protesters to adhere to the "peaceful nature" of the protest. "Live gunfire on unarmed civilians constitutes a brutal violation of the global legal obligation to distinguish between civilians and combatants", Adalah, a legal center for Palestinian rights in Israel, said in a statement, condemning the violence.

The Turkish presidential spokesman said that it is "impossible" to accept the loss of lives, injuries, the violation of human dignity and the violation of worldwide law in the region. While the Israeli army has portrayed the march as a violent provocation organized by Hamas, the march's organizers have stressed that the march is an apolitical, non-violent protest against the unbearable living conditions in Gaza and for the Palestinian right of return. Moreover, since it would end the Jewish majority in Israel, it has been repeatedly denounced as a threat to the very survival of the Zionist state. "On the eve of Passover (of all days), which commemorates God liberating Prophet Moses and his people from tyranny, Zionist tyrants murder peaceful Palestinian protesters - whose land they have stolen - as they march to escape their cruel and inhuman apartheid bondage", Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted.

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On 14 May, Israel will mark its 70th anniversary and the U.S. is scheduled to open its embassy in Jerusalem. Ramadan, the Muslim holy fasting month that often sees a surge in Palestinian attacks, also is anticipated to begin May 15.

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