15 dead, more than 750 shot during Gaza protest

More than a dozen Palestinians died and more 1,400 were injured after clashes with Israeli security forces on Friday, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Thousands of Palestinians had gathered on the Gazan side of the security fence with Israel in the first of a series of protests planned to mark the the 70th anniversary of what Palestinians refer to as the 1948 ‘Nakba’ (Catastrophe), referring to the date Israel declared its independence.

More than 750 of those injured were shot with live ammunition, with 20 in a critical condition.

Medical facilities in Gaza, already under strain due to a shortage of medical supplies, were reported to be struggling to cope with the large numbers of casualties.

The violence occurred when some of the protesters approached and stoned the security fence, with Israeli sources claiming Molotov cocktails were also thrown. In response Israeli forces ― which had prepared for the protests by deploying more than 100 snipers in the area ― opened fire.

Following the events in Gaza the United Nations (UN) security council urged restraint, whilst the Secretary General, António Guterres called for an independent investigation into the clashes.

The Palestinian UN ambassador, Riyad Mansour, said he was disappointed by the security council’s failure to condemn what he called a “heinous massacre” of peaceful demonstrators.

Israeli ambassador, Danny Danon, said “the international community must not be deceived,” by, “a well-organised and violent terror-gathering”.

Palestinian human rights groups in Gaza meanwhile expressed concerns over excessive use of armed force by Israeli forces, citing the high number of casualties among unarmed demonstrators.