Dozens of Palestinians injured by Israeli gunfire, tear gas in Gaza border protests

Palestinian paramedics carry away a protester injured during a demonstration along the border between Israel and the Gaza strip, east of Khan Yunis. (AFP)
Updated 25 May 2018
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Dozens of Palestinians injured by Israeli gunfire, tear gas in Gaza border protests

GAZA BORDER: Dozens of Palestinians demonstrating at the Gaza border were injured by Israeli gunfire and tear gas on Friday, as the latest round of protests drew several thousand participants to the frontier.
Dubbed the March of Return, the protests were launched on March 30 to demand the right of return for Palestinian refugees and their descendants to family lands or homes lost to Israel during its founding in a 1948 war.
Protests along the border reached a peak on May 14 when Gaza medical sources said at least 60 Palestinians were killed by Israeli gunfire. The violence has tapered off since but there are still sporadic flare-ups.
Since the border protests began, 113 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire, Gaza medical officials said.
Most of the participants on Friday kept their distance and remained about 800 meters from the fence. Dozens of youths, however, advanced to around 300 meters distance and burned tires at one protest spot. East of Gaza City some youths came right up to the fence and tried to pull it apart.
Israeli troops fired tear gas and live rounds. Soldiers also fired at kites with flaming tails to try to bring them down before they landed in Israeli farmland and set crops alight.
Gaza health ministry officials said at least 109 protesters were hurt. Medics said at least 10 were wounded by live rounds. Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh and the group’s Gaza leader, Yehya Al-Sinwar, joined separate protest encampments raising cheers from the assembled crowds.
“The marches of return are not over. They may be smaller but we are continuing,” said Ali, a participant who masked his face with his t-shirt at a protest east of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip.
Protesters dispersed as dusk fell to prepare to break their daytime fast during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Gaza has been controlled since 2007 by Hamas. Israel and Egypt, citing security concerns, maintain a de facto blockade on Gaza, which has reduced its economy to a state of collapse.
Israel has blamed Hamas for provoking the violence.
“They’re pushing civilians – women, children – into the line of fire with a view of getting casualties. We try to minimize casualties. They’re trying to incur casualties in order to put pressure on Israel, which is horrible,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told CBS News last week.
Salah Al-Bardaweel, a Hamas official in Gaza, told a Palestinian television channel that the majority of those killed on May 14 were Hamas members.


UN rebukes Europe for failing to allow rescued Arab migrants to land

Updated 2 min 6 sec ago
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UN rebukes Europe for failing to allow rescued Arab migrants to land

  • Private rescue ships have been restricted from conducting search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean
  • Libya, wracked by violence, is no refuge, the UNHCR said

GENEVA: UN aid agencies criticized European countries on Tuesday for not allowing migrants to disembark at safe ports, after more than 140 people rescued at sea were taken to a detention center in Misrata, Libya.

An estimated 170 migrants were lost in the Mediterranean in two incidents involving dinghies that left from Libya and Morocco, migrant organizations said on Saturday.

In all, 203 passengers have drowned at sea trying to reach Europe in January; 4,883 have arrived, mainly in Spain, Greece and Italy, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said.

Private rescue ships have been restricted from conducting search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean, putting more lives unnecessarily at risk, the UN refugee agency UNHCR said.

“IOM confirmed yesterday (Monday) that the Sierra Leonean flagged cargo vessel Lady Sham returned 144 rescued migrants to Libya. It remains unclear when and from where these individuals departed,” IOM spokesman Joel Millman told a Geneva briefing.

“IOM staff counted 26 women and four children among those rescued and taken to a detention center in Misrata,” he said.

Libya, wracked by violence, is no refuge, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said.

“In Libya’s current context, where outbreaks of violence and widespread human rights violations prevail, no rescued refugees and migrants should be returned there,” said UNHCR spokesman Charlie Yaxley.

“It has been well-documented at this point that the people in these detention centers face pretty appalling treatment, many report going hungry for days on end, not being able to receive dire urgent medical care that they require; others allege to have been tortured,” he said.

Matteo Salvini, Italy’s interior minister, who has closed off Italian ports to humanitarian rescue vessels since a populist government came to power in mid-2018, has said the ports would remain closed to deter human traffickers.

UNHCR denounced “politicking around sea rescues” by European states that have restricted aid groups from conducting missions.

“Currently, rescue at sea has been taken hostage by politics... decisive leadership that taps into fundamental values of humanity and compassion is sorely needed,” Yaxley said.