Four Palestinians, including two teenagers, have been killed and dozens of other protesters injured while taking part in the ongoing demonstrations along the lands east of the besieged Gaza Strip near Israel‘s fence.
According to Gaza’s health ministry, Mohammed al-Jahjouh, a 16-year-old demonstrator, was killed after being struck in the neck by Israeli army gunfire on Friday.
Abdulaziz Abu Shree’a, 28, succumbed to his wounds after he was shot in the stomach, the ministry added.
Maher Yassin, 40, a person with special needs, also died after being critically wounded by Israeli live fire.
The fourth person, Ayman Shbeir, died the following day after succumbing to wounds sustained during Friday’s protest.
About 40 Palestinian protesters – including four medics and two journalists – sustained injuries, the ministry said.
For the 39th consecutive week, Palestinians converged along the Gaza-Israel buffer zone to take part in ongoing demonstrations against Israel’s decades-long occupation.
Israeli forces fired live ammunition and tear-gas grenades directly at Palestinian protesters gathered at the eastern borders of Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip, and in Jabaliya in the northern Gaza Strip.
An Israeli military spokeswoman said, “Troops responded with riot dispersal means and fired in accordance with standard operating procedures.”
Friday’s rally was held under the slogan, “Honouring heroes of the resistance” and witnessed a turnout of around 8,000 protesters.
In a statement, Gaza’s National Authority for Breaking the Siege urged members of the public to take part in Friday’s demonstration.
“These demonstrations draw their strength from the heroes of the resistance and from their sacrifices,” the statement read.
It went on to urge the Palestinian people to “escalate all forms of resistance against Israel’s occupation”.
The Great March of Return protests were launched on March 30 by thousands of Palestinian civilians in Gaza, who are calling for the right of return for Palestinian refugees to their lands, under UN Resolution 194, and demanding an end to the 12-year Israeli blockade.
Since the rallies first began, more than 215 Palestinians have been killed and at least 18,000 others injured by Israeli forces.