LIVE: Seven Palestinians killed, hundreds wounded in second week of Gaza protests

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Last update: 
December 14 Dec 2018 19:57 UTC

Protests have begun in the Gaza Strip today, one week since the beginning of the "Great March of Return" in the besieged enclave, where almost 1.3 million of the small territory’s two million inhabitants are refugees, demanding their right to return to their pre-1948 homes.

The six-week protest is set to end on 15 May - the 70th anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba (Catastrophe), in which more than 750,000 Palestinians were forcibly displaced by Israeli forces in 1948 Arab-Israeli war.

Israeli forces violently repressed last week's protest, which occurred on Land Day, killing 19 demonstrators and injuring more than 1,400 with live fire, rubber-coated steel bullets, and tear gas.

Demonstrators were anticipating similar levels of military repression this week, a day after Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman said that "open-fire rules for the Gaza border will remain unchanged".

Palestinians have nicknamed this Friday's protest "Jum'at al-Kawshook", literally meaning "Tyres Friday", as demonstrators planned on using burning tyres and mirrors to distract Israeli snipers and infantry brigade troops from targeting the crowds with live ammunition.

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Photo: Hussein Mohammed Madi, 15, a day before he was killed by Israeli forces (MEE/Mohammed al-Hajjar)

Israeli spokesperson tweets photo of Palestinian children in sniper scope

The Israeli military's Arabic spokesperson tweeted on Friday a photo with Palestinian children in a sniper scope captioned, "We see you well."

Avichay Adraee, who earlier this week used a religious ruling by Saudi Muslim Saleh al-Fawzan to discourage Palestinian from participating in the Great Return March, warned Palestinians on Friday that they cannot hide from the Israeli army.

Translation: Those who think they can hide from the lenses of our forces are mistaken. We see you clearly, and we won't allow anyone to even try to compromise Israel's security. Stop the stupidity and putting yourselves in harm's way.


18-year-old killed in Gaza: Health Ministry

An 18-year-old Palestinian was killed east of Rafah city in the Southern Gaza Strip. 

Alaa Yahya al-Zamli is the seventh Palestinian to have died from today's demonstration, according to the Ministry of Health. 

Evening round-up


Chloe here from Bethlehem. Here's an evening round-up of the day's events:

► Six Palestinian demonstrators have been killed as of 8 pm local time: Mohammed Said al-Haj Saleh, 33; Ibrahim al-Aar, 20; Sedqi Abu Etiwi, 20; Hussein Mohammed Madi, 15; Majdi Ramadan; and Osama Khamis Qudeih, 38.

► At least 1,060 have been injured across the Gaza on Friday, including 293 wounded by live fire.

► At least five journalists have been injured by Israeli forces throughout the day

► Solidarity demonstrations across the West Bank saw dozens wounded, at least three detained by Israeli forces

Six Palestinians killed in Gaza, says ministry of health

A sixth Palestinian was killed in today's demonstrations, the Gaza Ministry of Health reported.

33-year-old Mohammed Said al-Haj Saleh died after being injured in the chest and abdomen east of Rafah City in southern Gaza.

The Ministry added that at least 1,060 people were injured today, including 25 in critical condition

Gaza ministry of health: At least 780 injured

At least 780 Palestinians have been injured, by tear gas and live gunshots, during today's protests. 

The latest estimate of injuries given by the Gaza Ministry of Health said that at least 372 people were taken to hospital for treatment. 

A Palestinian Red Crescent Society spokesperson told MEE that the organisation treated 446 people on Friday, including 218 who were shot with live ammunition.


BREAKING: Two more Palestinians killed by Israeli fire

Two more demonstrators have been killed in Gaza by Israeli security forces, according to the Gaza Ministry of Health.

The Ministry identified them as Ibrahim al-Aar, 20, and Sedqi Abu Etiwi, 20. Both young men were from the Al-Nuseirat refugee camp and killed in central Gaza.   

Hamas leader: 'wait for our great move, when we breach the borders and pray at Al-Aqsa'

Hamas leader, Yahya al-Sinwar, said that if Gaza exploded, it would be in the face of the Israeli occupation.

Sinwar, who was elected in February 2017 as the top leader of the movement that governs Gaza Strip, said that "the world should wait for our great move when we breach the borders and pray at Al-Aqsa mosque," in Jerusalem.

Speaking to protestors in one of the demonstration sites, Sinwar said that "Gaza would not let down the national aspirations of the Palestinian people."

"They thought that by putting pressure on the Gaza Strip, the masses would revolt against the Palestinian resistance... They thought that if the Gaza Strip is starved, it would give up its principles and would abandon the project of liberation and return,” he said.

Sinwar added that "we are following in the path of martyr Yasser Arafat in resisting the enemy,” referring to Israel, and "the conspiracy of besieging the Gaza Strip, with the hope that its residents would revolt against resistance, has failed."

Palestinians consider Yasser Arafat, a Palestinian national leader died in 2004, as a martyr, claiming that Israel poisoned him.

Protesters at the site chanted slogans, including “We are going to Jerusalem, millions of martyrs,” a chant that firstly chanted by Arafat in 2002 when he was under Israel military siege in his Palestinian Authority's headquarter in Ramallah. 

BREAKING: Two more Palestinians killed, Gaza Ministry of Health says

Two more demonstrators has been killed in Gaza, the ministry of health said, identifying them as Ibrahim al-Aar, 20, and Sadqi Abu Etiwi, 20. Both young men were from al-Nuseirat refugee camp and were killed east of al-Bureij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip. The ministry did not immediately report their cause of death.

In total, five Palestinians have been killed in today's protests, while a sixth died earlier today as a result of wounds sustained during last Friday's protest.

Two more journalists injured by Israeli forces: Gaza Ministry of Health

Earlier this afternoon, the Gaza Ministry of Health reported that two more journalists covering the Gaza demonstrations had been injured.

According to the Ministry, photographer Adham al-Hajjar and journalist Ezz Abu Shanab were both wounded in the leg.

As earlier reported in this blog, at least three other journalists were injured during Friday's demonstrations, including one by gunshot.

Israeli forces had used loudspeakers to call on journalists to evacuate from the demonstration areas.

EXCLUSIVE: Photo of slain Palestinian teen

Hussein Mohammed Madi, the teenager who was shot and killed with an expanding dumdum bullet by Israeli forces on Friday - according to the ministry of health in Gaza - had encountered MEE correspondent and photographer Mohammed al-Hajjar on Thursday, who had taken a picture of the boy and asked him for his name.

Madi was from the Gaza City neighbourhood of al-Sheikh Radwan, according to the Gaza ministry of health. He was 15 years old.

Hussein Mohammed Mahdi, 15, a day before he was killed by Israeli forces (MEE/Mohammed al-Hajjar)

In photos: Noon prayers in Gaza

Earlier today, hundreds of Gazans performed Friday prayers at the protest tent encampments near the border with Israel. Here are a few photographs from northeastern Gaza from our MEE correspondent there.

(MEE/Mohammed al-Hajjar)

(MEE/Mohammed al-Hajjar)

(MEE/Mohammed al-Hajjar)

BREAKING: Palestinian minor killed, Gaza health ministry says

A third demonstrator has been killed today in Gaza, Gaza's ministry of health reported, identifying the slain Palestinian as 15-year-old Hussein Mohammed Madi from Gaza City.

Mahdi was killed east of Gaza City by a dumdum expanding bullet in the abdomen, the Ministry added.

Two other Palestinians - Majdi Ramadan and Osama Khamis Qudeih, 38 - were killed earlier in the day during the demonstrations. Meanwhile, a fourth Palestinian, 30-year-old Thaer Rabaa, succumbed to wounds sustained during last week's protests, technically putting Friday's toll at four dead.

There have been no reports of casualties or injuries on the Israeli side on Friday.

Military spokesperson: Israel might stop Gaza from importing tyres

An Israeli military spokesperson hinted that Israel might stop Palestinians from importing tyres into the Gaza Strip.

Avichay Adraee tweeted: "Don't complain if there might be a shortage of materials, such as tyres," adding that Palestinians allowed Hamas to "control them and their lives".

He posted a picture of a bus without tyres with the question: "Where are the tyres?"

Palestinians have used reflective mirrors and burned old tyres to create smokescreens to obscure Israeli snipers' vision. 

Adraee appeared last week on a video recording before the 30 March protest, using Saudi fatwas as justification for arguing that Palestinians should not take part in Great March of Return protests against the occupation.

"Sheikh Ibn Uthaymeen stated that sit-ins and violent demonstrations are evil because they lead to chaos," Adraee said.

He also warned Palestinian women to focus on their "feminine" duties rather than protesting, saying that they should "focus on caring about their households and children to set a good example".

Israeli army: 10,000 Palestinians protesting in Gaza

The Israeli army said in a statement on Friday afternoon that some 10,000 Palestinians were demonstrating in Gaza today.

"Approximately 10,000 Palestinians have been rioting in five locations along the border with the Gaza Strip," AFP quoted the statement as saying, adding that "several attempts have been made to damage and cross the security fence under the cover of the smokescreen created by the burning tyres that the rioters ignited".

The military also claimed that explosive devices and firebombs were thrown, but made no mentions of any injuries on the Israeli side.

"Troops are responding with riot dispersal means, including water cannons to put out fires, a huge fan to disperse the smoke, and fire in accordance with the rules of engagement," the army added.

The Israeli army usually uses the term "riot dispersal means" as a euphemism to describe anything from tear gas and sound bombs to rubber-coated steel bullets or live bullets.

Israeli forces suppress solidarity protests in West Bank

While thousands of Palestinians are demonstrating in Gaza Strip as part of the "Great March of Return", Palestinians have also taken to the streets in the occupied West Bank in solidarity with the events taking place in the besieged coastal enclave.

According to Wafa, the Palestinian Authority's official news agency, Israeli forces fired smoke bombs and stun grenades at demonstrators in the southern West Bank city of Hebron, causing several to suffer from suffocation.

Meanwhile, Israeli forces detained three Palestinians, at least one of them a minor, during a protest in the city of Bethlehem. Israeli forces were firing tear gas intermittently in northern Bethlehem throughout the afternoon, according to an MEE correspondent there.

Wafa also reported that demonstrations were taking place in the Nablus-area villages of Beita and Kafr Qaddum, stating that at least one Palestinian had been injured by a rubber-coated steel bullet.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Palestinian Red Crescent Society told MEE that protests also took places in the city of al-Bireh in the central West Bank, as well as in the village of Kafr Qaddum in the northern West Bank.

The PRCS spokesperson said eight people had been injured in total in both areas, either by rubber-coated steel bullets or due to excessive tear gas inhalation, without specifying which injuries had taken place where.

An Israeli army spokesperson told MEE several "riots" took place across the West Bank, but said they were not aware of any injuries, adding that "nothing (was) out of the ordinary".

Friday of Tyres

BREAKING: Second Palestinian killed in Gaza, health ministry says

A second Palestinian has been killed by Israeli forces during protests in Gaza today, the Gaza health ministry said around 4:30pm, identifying the slain Palestinian as Majdi Ramadan Shabat, who died in demonstrations taking place east of Gaza City.

The ministry did not immediately elaborate on how Shabat was killed.

Another demonstrator, 38-year-old Osama Khamis Qudeih, was killed earlier this afternoon after reportedly being shot in the neck.

Earlier today, before the demonstrations began, 30-year-old Thaer Rabaa succumbed to wounds sustained during last week's protests, technically putting Friday's toll at three dead.

BREAKING: At least 150 wounded, Gaza health ministry says

The Gaza ministry of health has reported that at least 150 Palestinians have been wounded as of 4pm local time.

BREAKING: Israeli forces shoot journalist covering Gaza protests

Less than an hour after Israeli forces called for journalists to evacuate from the protest area near Malaka-Karni in the northeastern Gaza Strip, at least three journalists were injured, including one by gunshot, an MEE correspondent on the scene said.

According to the correspondent, journalist Yasser Murtaja was shot in the abdomen. Meanwhile, Sabr Nour al-Dinwas reportedly wounded by a tear gas canister that hit him in the abdomen, and Palestine TV correspondent Islam al-Zanoun suffered from excessive tear gas inhalation.

An Israeli army spokesperson told MEE they were not aware of the incidents. 

A wounded journalist is evacuated on a stretcher during Gaza protests (Reuters)

'This is my land, it is not theirs'

BREAKING: One Palestinian killed, Gaza health ministry says

The Gaza ministry of health has announced that a Palestinian was killed in the southern Gaza Strip east of Khan Younis, identifying him as 38-year-old Osama Khamis Qudeih.

Qudeih, who was initially misidentified, is the first Palestinian to be killed in today's protests. The ministry said he died after being shot in the neck.

BREAKING: Israeli forces ask journalists to withdraw from demonstration

An MEE correspondent on the scene in the Malaka-Karni area, east of Gaza City, is reporting that Israeli forces are calling, via loudspeaker, on journalists to evacuate the area, raising fears that the army might escalate measures in the area.


Anger with MBS on the front line of demonstrations

On Palestine's Wattan TV, Palestinian demonstrators we seen earlier today burning photographs of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, who drew Palestinian ire earlier this week for stating in an interview with The Atlantic that Israel had a "right" to a homeland.

Red Crescent says 80 Palestinians wounded in protests

The Gaza ministry of health says at least 40 Palestinian demonstrators have been wounded today, as of 2:30pm local time.

The ministry said at least five people were severely injured in the head or upper body, adding that dozens more had received first aid in field clinics located in the protest tent encampments along the border with Israel.

The Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) said around 3pm that it had treated at least 81 injured Palestinians, including 36 who suffered from gunshot injuries.

PRCS said at least three people were in a critical condition. 

Wounded Palestinian is evacuated during clashes with Israeli troops at the Israel-Gaza border east of Gaza City (Reuters)

B'Tselem campaigns for Israeli snipers to refuse to shoot at Gaza protesters

In anticipation of today's demonstration, Israeli human rights organisation B'Tselem earlier this week announced a new campaign urging Israeli soldiers to refuse orders to open fire on unarmed Palestinian demonstrators in the Gaza Strip.

The campaign, which was titled “Sorry Commander, I cannot shoot”, did not feature in the Israeli national press.

Israeli politician Yair Lapid tweeted on Wednesday that B'Tselem's campaign for Israeli soldiers to refuse shooting orders in Gaza was "a disgrace and a complete moral blindness".

B'Tselem, according to Lapid, "have gone mad".

"Have you considered calling on Hamas to stop sending terrorists to try to break through the border into Israel?" he asked.

On Thursday, Israeli Knesset members and politicians called B'Tselem's campaign "an incitement to refusal", and asked for an investigation into the organisation's work. 

It remained unclear as of Friday whether any soldiers had heeded B'Tselem's call.

Israeli forces hosing down burning tyres east of Gaza City

Israeli forces are hosing down piles of burning tyres set up by protesters east of Gaza City, in the Malaka-Karni area, according to an MEE correspondent on the ground, adding that demonstrators were bringing more tyres to the protest encampment.

Today's demonstrations have been dubbed "Jum'at al-Kawshook", literally meaning "Friday of tyres", as demonstrators have planned on using burning tyres and mirrors to make it harder for Israeli snipers and infantry brigade troops to target crowds with live ammunition.

In addition to using water to take out the fires, as reported earlier in this liveblog, Israeli forces have also been using large fans to blow the smoke away from army snipers.

Illan Pappe: Those who denounce Labour anti-Semitism are silent on Gaza

Ilan Pappe, a leading Israeli historian and Director of the European Centre for Palestine Studies at the University of Exeter, has written for MEE about how the Jeremy Corbyn/anti-Semitism row in the UK has made it harder for the Labour Party leader to speak out about the ongoing situation in Gaza, which has seen 22 Palestinians killed since last Friday. 

Pappe refers to the presence of Israeli flags amid the protest outside the UK parliament on 26 March and writes:

“The dividend for the Zionist lobby in Britain was that Corbyn would be silent in the face of the new massacre in Gaza – and without him, we have very few brave politicians who would dare to utter a word in the new atmosphere of timidity.”

More than protests: karate, camel racing and reading

Palestinians along the Gaza border are carrying out a range of different activities, from karate classes for children, horse and camel racing and reading "human chains."

The activities have drawn in men, women, elderly and children, and photos from east of Khan Younis show Palestinians who were injured last Friday coming back to protest.

Others have made home-made masks from plastic bottles and onions to protect them from the tear gas fired by Israeli troops. 

Most activities are to the areat east of Khan Younis, where the biggest crowds are, with others to east of Gaza City, in the Rafah and Al-Breej neighbourhoods. 

Palestinians in Karate class in Gaza strip as part of the March of Return protests, 5 April (Screengrab)

Demonstrators burn tyres in Khan Younis area

Footage is coming out of Palestinian protesters burning tyres in the "buffer zone" between Gaza and Israel, notably in the southern Gaza Strip east of the city of Khan Younis.

Today's demonstrations have been dubbed "Jum'at al-Kawshook", literally meaning "Friday of tyres", as demonstrators have planned on using burning tyres and mirrors to make it harder for Israeli snipers and infantry brigade troops to target crowds with live ammunition.

Meanwhile, a reporter from Israel's Channel 2 news shared a photo of Israel forces using big fans to attempt to counter the smoke.

Hamas co-founder: If Gaza is hit, we will hit Israel

Hamas co-founder Mahmoud al-Zahar threatened reprisal attacks against Israel should Gaza be targeted today, speaking at one of the Gaza demonstrations on Friday, the Hamas-affiliated Shehab news agency reported.

"We know our path, even though the world conspires against us [Palestinians]," he said.

"If Gaza is hit, we will hit deep in the Israeli settlements," he said, referring to Israeli territory.