At least three Palestinians died Friday amid violence between protesters and Israeli troops along the Gaza-Israel border, Palestinian officials say. They say hundreds more were injured when Israeli troops opened fire on the demonstrators who rushed a security barrier in the region, seeking to cross into Israel.
The Palestinian Ministry of Health says at least 178 of those casualties came due to the Israeli security forces’ use of live ammunition.
Friday’s violence marks a new chapter to an already bloody series of confrontations between Palestinian protesters and Israeli troops, which have unfolded over more than a month. Organizers call the Great March of Return, as it’s billed, a nonviolent demonstration intended to call attention to the plight of Palestinian refugees and to demand the return of lands lost to Israel in 1948.
At the same time, Israeli authorities say Hamas, the militant group that controls the Palestinian territory of Gaza, has been pushing for violence in the area and encouraging some armed, aggressive members of the demonstrations.
Over 40 Palestinians have been killed and more than 5,500 injured in Gaza during the periodic clashes between the two sides, according to the United Nations. The U.N. said in a statement Friday that many of the wounded and killed “appear to have been unarmed or not presenting an imminent threat” to the Israeli security forces, yet more than 1,700 of those injured were hit by live fire. Among the dead were also four children, the U.N. noted.
“The use of excessive force against any demonstrator is reprehensible, but children enjoy additional protection under international law,” Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the high commissioner for human rights, said in the statement.
“It is difficult to see how children, even those throwing stones, can present a threat of imminent death or serious injury to heavily protected security force personnel,” he added. “Images of a child being shot as he runs away from Israeli security forces are downright shocking.”
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SOURCE: NPR, Colin Dwyer