04/21/2018, 15.41
ISRAEL – PALESTINE
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More dead and wounded in Gaza, as Israel fails to heed 'the cry of the Palestinian people'

Four people died yesterday, including a 15-year-old boy. Thousands of wounded aggravate the situation in Gaza hospitals. Israeli NGO warns that the wounded risk amputation. Israel accuses Hamas of exploiting the Palestinian people and slams the use of kites to drop firebombs. Protests will continue until 15 May.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews) – “The Marches of Return in Gaza point once again to the need to find a solution to the long-drawn conflict and to end the siege on Gaza,” said Bernard Sabella, Catholic member of Fatah, reacting to the latest violent incidents on the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel.

During yesterday’s protest four more people died, including Mohammed Ayoub, a boy of 15. Among the hundreds of wounded by gunshot many are at risk of amputation.

"These marches also remind us of the need to respect the rights of the Palestinian refugees according to international UN resolutions,” Sabella said. In fact, “Peace cannot happen if refugee rights are not taken into consideration. Unilateral decisions irrespective of where and who makes them will not bring peace to the troubled holy land.”

Ultimately, he adds, “Justice, although relative, should cement any eventual peace agreement between the two peoples of the Holy Land. Confronting the nonviolent marches of return with sniper gunpower and other means of suppression simply means that some Israeli decision-makers are not capable to understand the cry of the Palestinian people for peace with justice and for ending the conflict once and for all.”

Protests, which began on 30 March, are now entering their fifth consecutive week, with the death toll exceeding 34. Yesterday's protest was dedicated to the latter, renamed by some "Friday of the kites", with some carrying messages like "We will never leave our land".

Health authorities in Gaza said that in total 729 Palestinians were wounded yesterday,156 by live fire, with four in serious conditions.

The wave of injured people over the past few weeks has aggravated the situation in Gaza, where the health system has been on the verge of collapse for months.

“In the most advanced hospital in Gaza it felt like the 1970s. If things remain this way, most gunshot casualties will have to undergo amputation,” warned Salah Haj Yahia, director of the Physicians for Human Rights-Israel’s mobile clinic.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) yesterday dropped leaflets on Gaza saying that it was “prepared for any scenario”, warning residents that Hamas was taking advantage of them.

On Thursday, Islamic Jihad published a video threatening Israeli soldiers ahead of the weekly protest. The clip shows the group’s operatives looking through the scope of a rifle at Israeli military figures, including Major General Yoav Mordechai, the coordinator of government activities in the territories.

According to the IDF, protesters have tried to damage the border fence and have used kites to carry firebombs. None of these attempts has caused any damage nor casualty on the Israeli side.

The media have reported efforts over the past week, in particular by Egypt, to get Hamas to stop the mass protests and the marches. The requests were rebuffed by Hamas, which claims the protests are a popular movement backed by all Palestinian factions.  

The organising committee plans to continue the protests until 15 May, which Palestinians remember as the nakba (catastrophe) and is known to Israelis as Independence Day.

The day, 15 May, follows the Gregorian calendar, but Israel has already celebrated its 70th Independence Day on 18 April in accordance with the Jewish calendar.

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