Citing 195 Gazan Deaths, UN Urges Israel and Hamas to Avoid Violence on Protest Anniversary

UN humanitarian official outlines 'staggering' human costs a year of demonstrations along the border has inflicted

FILE PHOTO: Palestinian paramedics carry a wounded protester during clashes with Israeli forces east of Gaza city, October 5, 2018.

A UN official urged Israel and Gaza's Hamas rulers to avoid a violent escalation on the eve of the first anniversary of the start of weekly border protests.

Jamie McGoldrick, the UN humanitarian official for the Palestinian territories, issued a statement on Friday outlining the "staggering" human costs a year of demonstrations has inflicted, especially on Gaza's children.

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The statement says 195 Palestinians, including some 40 children, have been killed by Israeli forces. Nearly 29,000 Palestinians have been injured, including 7,000 by live fire. A large number of casualties among unarmed Palestinians and clearly-marked medics have "raised concerns" about Israel's use of excessive force.

It says the protests have exacerbated the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip, overwhelming a health-care system already stressed by 11 years of Israeli-Egyptian blockade.

Tens of thousands of Palestinians are expected to take part in protests across the Gaza Strip on Saturday, according to the organizing committee of the weekly marches, which called on demonstrators to "not give Israeli snipers an opportunity to hit them."

The Egyptian security delegation, which arrived in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday evening, urged the Palestinian factions, and in particular Hamas, to maintain restraint regarding the weekend's demonstrations.  

The delegation has been holding intensive discussions with Israel and Hamas leaders to try and prevent the situation from further escalation.