Hazem Balousha and Oliver Holmes / The Guardian & The Associated Press – 2018-04-02 00:45:31
Palestinians Hold Day of Mourning
After 773 ‘Shot With Live Ammunition’
Hazem Balousha and Oliver Holmes / Guardian UK
(April 1, 2018) — Gaza hospitals, running low on blood and overstretched by the huge number of wounded, were reeling after one of the enclave’s bloodiest days outside of open war, in which Israeli soldiers shot 773 people with live ammunition, according to the ministry of health.
Fifteen of the wounded died, said the ministry spokesperson Dr Ashraf al-Qidra. “Most of the dead were aged between 17 and 35 years old,” he said. “The injuries were on the upper part of the body.” He added that the remainder of the wounded, some of whom were in a critical condition, had been “shot with live ammunition”.
The violence erupted on Friday after mass demonstrations took place demanding the right of return for Palestinian refugees and their descendants to land in Israel.
Tens of thousands of people, including women and children, had planned to camp several hundred meters from the Israeli frontier, which surrounds the 140-square-mile Gaza strip on two sides, on the first day of a peaceful, six-week protest.
But from the main camps, groups of mostly young men approached the border at several locations and started throwing stones and burning tyres. Soldiers responded by opening fire throughout the day.
More than 1,400 people were wounded, mostly by bullets but also rubber-coated rounds and tear-gas inhalation, the health ministry said. The Guardian was unable to independently verify the ministry’s figures.
On Friday, in less than 30 minutes, reporters saw 10 people with bullet wounds carried away on stretchers at one of the demonstrations.
The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, declared Saturday a national day of mourning. More demonstrations are planned.
Israel said it has positioned snipers and responded to “rioting” Palestinians with “dispersal means” and “firing towards main instigators”. It said the movement was a Hamas-orchestrated ploy and it was identifying “terror attacks under the camouflage of riots”.
The military pointed to what it said was an “attempted shooting attack by a terror cell” in the northern part of the Gaza strip on Friday. It added that it had responded with gunfire and by targeting three nearby Hamas sites with tanks and fighter jets. The military sent a video to journalists showing men appearing to tamper with the separation fence and said that Hamas had earlier sent a seven-year-old girl across the border, whom Israeli soldiers returned to her parents.
The Israeli ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, said: “The international community must not be deceived” by what he called “a well-organised and violent terror gathering”.
Hamas, which backed the protest, has fought three wars with Israel since 2008. In the past few weeks, Israeli forces say they have caught people attempting to cut through the frontier to launch attacks.
The UN Security Council held emergency talks to discuss the risks of further escalation but failed to agree on a statement. “There is fear that the situation might deteriorate in the coming days,” said the assistant UN secretary general for political affairs, Taye-Brook Zerihoun.
The UN secretary general, Antonio Guterres, has called for an independent and transparent investigation into the violence, according to his spokesman Farhan Haq.
The Palestinian ambassador to the UN, Riyad Mansour, said what happened in Gaza was a “heinous massacre”. He said Palestinians “expect the security council to shoulder its responsibility” and “defuse this volatile situation, which clearly constitutes a threat to international peace and security”.
Friday’s death toll stood at 16 and included a farmer killed by an Israeli tank shell before dawn as he picked parsley near the border, according to the health ministry. An Israeli army spokesman said the man was operating suspiciously.
Al-Qidra said hospitals were running low on several blood types.
ACTION ALERT: Stop Israeli Soldiers from
Firing Live Ammunition at Unarmed Palestinian Protesters!
Tell the eleven Democratic members of Congress who were just in Israel to publicly condemn Israelâ€™s deadly attacks taking place right now against peaceful protesters in Gaza. You can also call their offices.
* Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) 202-225-4965
* Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) 202-225-4176
* Jim Himes (D-Conn.) 202-225-5541
* Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) 202-225-3661
*Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) 202-225-2111
*Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) 202-225-1640
*Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) 202-225-5931
*Katherine Clark (D-Mass.) 202-225-2836
* Donald McEachin (D-Va.) 202-225-6365
*Jimmy Panetta (D-Calif.) 202-225-6534
*Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) 202-225-5341
Tell Israel to Stop Firing at Peaceful Protesters!
I am appealing to you since you were just part of a Congressional delegation to Israel. Right now the Israeli military is firing at peaceful protesters in Gaza. Fifteen Palestinians have already been killed and over 350 injured by live fire, rubber-coated steel pellets and tear gas.
The Israeli army gave authorization in advance for its soldiers to open fire on the protestors. I call on you to immediately condemn Israelâ€™s deadly tactics and use your influence to tell Israel to stop firing at unarmed protesters.
Gaza Deaths: UN Secretary General Calls for ‘Transparent’ Investigation
Security Council urges restraint on both sides at emergency meeting
(March 30, 2018) — The UN secretary general, Antonio Guterres, has called for an independent investigation into deadly clashes in Gaza between Palestinians and Israeli troops, while security council members urged restraint on both sides.
The council did not decide on any action or joint message after an emergency meeting on Friday evening. Kuwait convened it hours after the bloodiest day in Gaza since the 2014 cross-border war between Israel and Hamas, the Islamist militant group that rules the coastal strip.
Fifteen people were killed and more than 750 wounded by Israeli fire as thousands of Palestinian protesters marched to Gaza’s border with Israel, the Palestinian health ministry said.
The Israeli military said thousands of Palestinians threw stones and rolled burning tires toward troops, Palestinian gunmen fired toward soldiers in one incident and militants were trying to conduct attacks under the cover of protests.
Guterres wants “an independent and transparent investigation” into the violence, spokesman Farhan Haq said.
The Palestinian ambassador, Riyad Mansour, said he was disappointed the Security Council did not coalesce to condemn what he called a “heinous massacre” of peaceful demonstrators, or to support his call to provide protection for Palestinian civilians.
He said the Palestinians “expect the security council to shoulder its responsibility” and “defuse this volatile situation, which clearly constitutes a threat to international peace and security”.
The Israeli ambassador, Danny Danon, said “the international community must not be deceived” by what he termed “a well-organised and violent terror-gathering” under the banner of a peaceful march.
He said “the Palestinians sunk to a new deceitful low so that they could use the UN to spread lies about Israel” while its representatives weren’t there because of the Passover holiday.
Some security council members suggested an investigation should be conducted and emphasised that Israel should ensure force is only used proportionally. Some also made noted Israel’s security concerns and called on demonstrators to avoid violence. They all expressed alarm at the flare-up of conflict in the volatile region.
“The situation is extremely worrisome,” said the Swedish deputy ambassador, Carl Skau. Equatorial Guinea’s ambassador, Anatolio Ndong Mba, warned that continuing violence could “escalate out of control and could further imperil what is already a very delicate situation” in Gaza.
The US, which often complains about what it sees as anti-Israel bias at the UN, urged all involved in the conflict to lower tensions.
“Bad actors who use protests as a cover to incite violence endanger innocent lives,” said Walter Miller, an adviser at Washington’s UN mission.
Russia and China, meanwhile, emphasised a need to step up diplomatic efforts toward resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a whole. Israel and Hamas have fought three cross-border wars in recent years.
Israel and Egypt imposed the blockade of Gaza after Hamas seized the strip from forces loyal to the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, in 2007.
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