Four Palestinian protesters were killed and hundreds others wounded by Israeli sharpshooters during the eleventh weekly protests along the Gaza – Israel fence, the Gaza Ministry of Health reported.
The ministry said a total of 618 people were wounded yesterday. Seven are in serious condition and 120 were struck by live fire at the protest over the course of the bloody day.
At least 122 unarmed protesters have been killed and close to 3,800 have been wounded by Israeli army fire since the marches began March 30.
Among those injured were an AFP photographer, Mohamed al-Baba, shot in his foot, a second unidentified photographer working for al-Aqsa Radio and a 23-year-old protester who was on life support after a gas canister hit his face.
Demonstrators burned tires, hurled stones and flew flaming kites as part of March of a ‘Million for Jerusalem’, marking both International Jerusalem Day and the 51st anniversary of the 1967 Middle East war.
The Israeli army said about 10,000 protesters had gathered in five places along the fence after the Friday prayer.
The Israeli forces dropped leaflets by drones on the Gaza Strip Thursday morning, warning residents “not to get close to the border or try to attack Israelis”.
“Residents of the Gaza Strip! Greetings, and may Ramadan bring you blessings,” the leaflets said. “A wise man considers the results of his actions in advance and chooses the action whose benefits outweigh the costs. If you consider this with regard to approaching or crossing the fence, you’ll reach the conclusion that this act isn’t worthwhile and is even harmful.”
No Israeli casualties have occurred in the more than two months of rallies along the tense border. However, Israeli farmers have lost wide spaces of agricultural fields and forests due to flaming kites launched by the Palestinians.
The protests have focused on lifting a decade-long Israeli-Egyptian blockade of the territory. Residents have demanded the right of return to ancestral homes in Israel for Palestinian refugee families.
Israel had predicted that the rallies would be a similar size and urgency as the demonstrations that occurred on May 14, the day the U.S. embassy was moved to Jerusalem, when 62 Palestinians were killed by Israeli gunfire. Nevertheless, it appeared that turnout was lower than expected due to heat and fasting of Holy Ramadan.
Ahmed Abu Ertima, one of the original organizers of the protests, urged demonstrators not to moving too close to the fence to avoid being shot. He said the protests would be more successful if they were peaceful.
Oula al-Rabaey, 43, Arabic literature instructor, said that she came to the protest for the first time after seeing images of the killed and wounded on social media.
“Even being a woman, sitting at home motivates a shamed feeling in your mind,” she told Mondoweiss.”All of us are obligated to scurry to retake Jerusalem and our stolen lands”.
Rabaey, who was holding a banner reading, “We will pray in Jerusalem”, believes that “our miserable situation of multi-blockade by Israel and Egypt will not be changed until hundreds of daily and weekly protesting. Then some wise European or western leaders might move to our benefit”.
While Tayseer Abu Mouammer, a 44-year old cement mixer driver, shielded his face as tear gas was thrown near him. He said that the young generation lost all hopes for improving their non-ending siege comparing their situation to even the most poor in countries like Jordan or Egypt.
“I am sure the whole world are sympathetic with some burnt fields by paper kites, but who will pay attention for those who die every sun set or sun rise?” he added. And why are innocent civilians banned from receiving medical treatment in abroad? he added. Gaza has poor medical experiences.
People do not die normally in Gaza, he said. “You will either die by medical mistake or by desperation,” Abu Mouammer told Mondoweiss.