Palestinian Critically Wounded in Border Protests, Gaza Health Ministry Says

Protests come day after organizing committee behind protests said it would work to prevent mass gatherings along the border in attempt to support Egyptian mediation efforts

Palestinians demonstrate on the Gaza border, March 30, 2019.
AFP

A Palestinian demonstrator was critically wounded Friday by live Israeli fire in border protests east of Gaza City, the Gaza Health Ministry said. Some 10,500 Palestinians gathered along the border, marching and throwing stones. The ministry also reported that 63 demonstrators were wounded, some by live fire.

This protests one day after the organizing committee behind the weeky demonstrations said they would freeze some of its activities and work to prevent mass gatherings near the border during Friday's march, as Egypt negotiates a long-term calm.

Committee member Talal Abu Zarifa told Haaretz that organizers decided to support the Egyptian mediation efforts for implementing understandings between Israel and Hamas. "We've made it clear on several occasions that the intensity of the protest will depend on the implementation" of the agreements, which include easing some of the restrictions Israel imposes on Gaza, he said.

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"We have no interest in young men coming close to the fence to be killed by sniper bullets," he said. "We want to secure achievements that will cost as little blood and victims as possible, and so as long as there's progress in the negotiations and implementation on the ground, we have no interest in escalation," Zarifa added.

Israel expanded the approved fishing zone for Gazans to 15 nautical miles (equivalent to 28.8 kilometers from the shoreline) on Monday, the military said. This is the maximum fishing range allowed in the Gaza Strip since the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993. Fishermen in Gaza say the 15-mile range is partial, only applying to waters off the southern part of the Strip.

Last Saturday marked the one-year anniversary of the March of Return in which three 17-year-old demonstrators died after being shot by live Israeli fire, Gaza's Health Ministry said. Adham Amara died after he was shot in the face. Tamer Abu Al-Kheir and Bilal Al-Najar died after being shot in a protest east of Khan Younes. 

Tens of thousands of Palestinian protestors had gathered along the border and the Health Ministry in Gaza reported that over 300 people were wounded and referred to hospitals. At least 60 people were wounded by live Israeli fire, five of them are in critical condition and nine are in serious condition.