Friday marked one of the deadliest days at the fence that divides the Gaza Strip from Israel since protests began in Gaza last March, as Israeli forced killed seven including two children.
Four of the seven were shot dead east of Gaza City in circumstances where it appears the demonstrators posed no threat to Israeli soldiers. “Amateur videos showed them kneeling down and kissing the ground on the Israeli side as gunfire could be heard,” the AP reported.
The youngest casualties on Friday were Mohammed al-Houm, 14, and Nasser Mosabeh, 12.
Around 1,200 mourners took part in the funeral of Musabeh on Saturday. Mourners chanted slogans against the U.S. and Israel. The procession stretched across the streets of Khan Younis in southern Gaza. He was wrapped in a beige canvas and carried through the city on a stretcher hoisted overs shoulders.
Musabeh’s sister, Duaa Musabeh, 18, said she had brought her brother to the Friday protests where she worked as a volunteer medic, but ordered him to stay back in a safer space. She said he usually was around away 300 yards from the bulge of protesters.
At the time of Musabeh’s killing, Duaa had approached the border fence to evacuate injured marchers. By the time she when returned to the area where she expected to find her brother it was after dark. Musabeh was missing. After a frantic, a man showed her a picture released by a nearby hospital that was trying to identify a boy who had been shot in the head and died.
“I did not believe it. I felt unable to move an inch, I fell on the ground,” Duaa murmured slowly.
The Israeli military estimated around 20,000 Palestinians protested on Friday at multiple sites along the fence. At least 509 were injured, three in serious condition, according to Gaza’s ministry of health. Additionally four paramedics, four journalists and 90 children were shot with live ammunition.
“A total of 191 people have been killed since the start of demonstrations in Gaza on March 30th as recorded by the Ministry of Health,” said UNRWA spokesperson Chris Gunness, “176 were killed by Israeli forces during the demonstrations and 15 from Israeli airstrikes.” This figure includes 33 children, three three persons with disabilities, three paramedics and two journalists.
In this same period over 10,000 have been hospitalized for injuries, around half of them wounded by live fire. Gunness added, at least have been 77 cases of injuries required amputation, among them 14 children and one woman. Twelve patients have been paralyzed due to spinal cord injury and two of them have died, a UN spokesperson stated Saturday.
The international aid group Doctors Without Borders says it had treated more than 2,000 injured with gunshot wounds, of whom 90 percent were hit in the lower limbs. Nearly half of those shot had fractures that included severely splintered bones. The youngest patient treated was seven years old, the group said in a statement.
“The threat of life-long disabilities for these patients is getting bigger as time goes on,” the group said.
While Musabeh’s burial was taking place, Gaza’s ruling party Hamas dispatched a delegation to Cairo in a desperate attempt to negotiate an easement to the 11-year blockade that has intensified in recent months. Gaza is home to some 2 million Palestinians, of whom 80 percent are aid dependent. Over recent months the Trump administration has cancelled all of their planned support to Palestinian refugees, totaling over $300 million.
The World Bank warned last week that Gaza’s economy is in “free fall.” It cited the blockade as a factor but also economic sanctions from Hamas’s political rival, the Palestinian Authority, and a steep reduction in international aid, particularly from the Trump administration.
It said unemployment youth unemployment has skyrocketed to 70 percent.
“A combination of war, isolation, and internal division has left Gaza in a crippling economic state and exacerbated the human distress,” said Marina Wes, the World Bank Country Director for West Bank and Gaza, “A situation where people struggle to make ends meet, suffer from worsening poverty, rising unemployment and deteriorating public services such as health care, water and sanitation, calls for urgent, real and sustainable solutions.”