Sunday, 18 November, 2018

Israeli forces kill 16 Palestinians in protests

Israeli forces kill 16 Palestinians in protests Israeli forces kill 16 Palestinians in protests
Andrew Cummings | 01 April, 2018, 00:32

Human Rights Watch strongly condemned Israel's use of force against protesters, with their Middle East director Sarah Leah Whitson tweeting on Friday: "The shocking number of Palestinians killed and hurt today by soldiers firing across the Gaza fence raises serious questions about Israel's longstanding use of live ammunition to police demonstrations". The Israel Defence Forces estimated that as many as 17,000 Palestinians were taking part in "March of Return".

Earlier, the army said militants tried to plant explosives along the border under cover of the protests and in one case sent a seven-year-old girl to the fence in an apparent attempt to draw Israeli fire, but soldiers understood what was happening and returned the girl to her parents.

The demonstrations began Friday with tent camps set up a half-mile from Gaza's 25-mile (40-kilometer) frontier with Israel; the climax is to come in mid-May with a mass march to the border that Israel fears will become an attempt to breach its territory.

The Great Return March takes place amid rising tensions over the collapse of Gaza's already blighted economy following the crippling blockade and Israel's murderous assaults on Gaza in 2008-09, 2012 and 2014 that killed 1,417, 147 and 2,250 Palestinians respectively and destroyed much of Gaza's basic infrastructure and tens of thousands of homes.

It began on Land Day, when Palestinians commemorate the killing of six unarmed Arab protesters in Israel in 1976, and as Jewish Israelis readied to observe the Passover holiday, which started at sundown on Friday.

"[If] violence drags on along the Gaza border, Israel will expand its reaction to strike the terrorists behind it", army spokesperson Brig.

Israel does not accept any right of return for Palestinian refugees.

He said, "We have deployed more than 100 sharpshooters who were called up from all of the military's units, primarily from the special forces", and added, "If [Israeli] lives are in jeopardy, there is permission to open fire".

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The official United Nations alert to journalists says it will be a closed-door meeting.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for an independent investigation into Friday's bloodshed, and appealed for all sides to refrain from any actions that could lead to further casualties or put civilians in harm's way. The Israeli military said the two were militants who had opened fire at troops across the border. The protest is scheduled to end on May 15, which Palestinians call Nakba (catastrophe) - it marks the day hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were displaced during the conflict over the creation of Israel in 1948. "If this continues we will not have no choice but to respond inside the Gaza Strip", Manelis told reporters in a phone briefing.

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas declared Saturday a day of national mourning and in a speech said he held Israel fully responsible for the deaths.

"We will not give up and we will not bargain with the Zionist entity over even a small piece of the land of Palestine", Haniyeh continued, stressing they will reject any deal proposed by the Trump administration, who he blamed of trampling Palestinian right by "Trump's decision to grant Jerusalem to Israel". Gen. Ronen Manelis rejected the claims from Jordan and Turkey that the IDF used "excessive force" against peaceful protesters.

In one video, a group of Palestinians gathered for Muslim prayers next to the Israeli border, bowing down on the ground.

Israel has accused Hamas of seeking to stir up protests to encourage violence.

The march coincided with Palestinian Land Day, an annual occasion marking Palestinians' protest against Israel's confiscation of their land.

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