Gazan killed, 146 hurt by Israeli fire in border protest

Charlene Craig
May 12, 2018

Further protests are planned on what Palestinians regard as their "day of shame", which coincides with Israeli independence day in the Gregorian calendar.

Israel closed the Kerem Shalom border crossing with the Gaza Strip on Saturday, a day after the terminal was damaged during protests by Palestinians that turned violent.

A senior IDF security official warned that next week's Gaza protests, set to coincide with Nakba Day ('The Catastrophe in Arabic) and the United States embassy move, are expected to be the most violent of the string of protests to date, Haaretz reported on Friday. IDF spokesperson Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said the army made a decision to hit the tunnel with airstrikes, as opposed to more effective ground-based methods, because of a number of operational considerations, including "convenience" and the issues posed by its proximity to the Erez Crossing.

The Gaza Health Ministry said a 40-year-old protester was killed and 176 were wounded by Israeli fire Friday. It says seven of the 49 protesters hit by Israeli fire Friday were in serious condition and that dozens of others were overcome by tear gas inhalation.

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The incursion took place during a weekly mass protest in which thousands of Palestinians gathered along the Israel-Gaza frontier. Israel says it has a right to defend its border and has accused Hamas of using the protests as a cover for attacking the border. He has raised the possibility of a mass border breach, comparing protesters to a "starving tiger", unpredictable and full of pent-up anger.

This was the ninth Gaza tunnel destroyed by Israel since October 30, five of which crossed the border into Israeli territory, the rest inside the coastal enclave. More than 1,800 Palestinians have been shot and wounded, including 146 on Friday. Israel's position has generally been that Palestinian refugees and their descendants would become citizens of a Palestinian state at the culmination of the peace process, just as Jews who fled or were forced out of Middle Eastern countries by hostile governments became citizens of Israel. Egypt also restricts movement in and out of Gaza. Rights groups say the use of potentially lethal force against unarmed protesters is unlawful.

The official ceremony for the relocation of the USA embassy in Jerusalem will be held on Monday, May 14 in the Jerusalem district of Arnona, and coincides with the 70th anniversary of the Palestinian people's Nakba, or "catastrophe", which marks the creation of Israel in which 700,000 Palestinians were expelled from their land.

Kerem Shalom is the only crossing open to transport goods into and out of Gaza, including fuel and food. Helping reinforce the Israeli blockade, Egypt has kept the Rafah crossing point, Gaza's main gate to the outside world, closed most of the time since the Hamas takeover.

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Palestinian factions and political groups called for escalated protests during this week and declared Monday a day of Rage. The upcoming opening was framed as a humanitarian gesture ahead of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, which begins next week.

It was the seventh weekly protest, and a preview of what is expected to be a much larger border rally on Monday and Tuesday.

One man walked onto the stage with an effigy of Trump dangling from a noose.

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