Four Palestinians, including a child, were killed Friday by Israeli forces on the borderline between Gaza and Israel, during the fifth consecutive Friday demonstration of the Great Return March. About 611 others were wounded, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health.
Palestinians have faced Israeli live ammunition with stones and ignited tires. Forty-two Palestinians have been killed since the beginning of the protests and about 2,000 others have been wounded.
The demonstrations started in the Gaza Strip at the end of March, commemorating the 42nd anniversary of Land Day, dubbed the Great March of Return. In response, Israeli forces fired live ammunition and used tear gas against the protesters.
Meanwhile, Amnesty International on Friday renewed its call for governments worldwide to impose a comprehensive arms embargo on Israel following the country’s “disproportionate response” to mass demonstrations along the fence that separates the Gaza Strip from Israel.
“The nature of these injuries shows that Israeli soldiers are using high-velocity military weapons designed to cause maximum harm to Palestinian protesters that do not pose imminent threat to them,” Amnesty’s report said.
“These apparently deliberate attempts to kill and main are deeply disturbing, not to mention completely illegal. Some of these cases appear to amount to wilful killing, a grave breach of the Geneva Conventions and a war crime,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, deputy regional director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.
For his part, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussein condemned Israel’s use of “excessive force” against Palestinian protesters, saying, “the use of excessive force against any demonstrator is reprehensible, but children enjoy additional protection under international law.”
Zeid said in a statement on Friday: “the loss of life is deplorable and the staggering number of injuries caused by live ammunition only confirms the sense that excessive force has been used against demonstrators—not once, not twice, but repeatedly.”
The Great March of Return has been organised to demand the return of Palestinians that were forcibly evacuated from their homes in what is now Israel. However, Israel refuses this demand as it fears that the returning Palestinians would eclipse its Jewish majority.
Protests are set to continue until 15 May, the day the State of Israel was declared, known as Nakba Day among Arabs.