Three weeks of Gaza’s ‘Return March’: Major events and casualties

By SETH J. FRANTZMAN

On April 13 Palestinians in Gaza assembled at five protest locations in Gaza next to the Israeli border fence. It was the third week of mass protests. The protests appear to be declining in popularity and Israel’s response has also become more measured. Here is a look back at the three weeks. Overall more than 2,000 have been reported injured and at least 34 killed.

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Approximate locate of the five protest camps 

Friday March 30

Tensions on Gaza border coincided with Land Day and Passover.

A farmer is killed early in the morning.

A Palestinian is wounded by a rank shell early in the morning

Israeli foreign ministry said that Hamas is responsible for any casualties: “Hamas and the other Palestinian organisations who have manufactured this entire campaign”.

IDF: Palestinians are “rioting throughout the Gaza Strip, rolling burning tires and hurling stones at the security fence and at IDF troops, who are responding with riot dispersal means and firing towards main instigators.

17,000 Palestinians protest at Gaza border.

17 protesters killed, 1,400 reported injured.

Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza: 1,416 people wounded, 758 from live bullets and 148 from rubber bullets, and the rest suffered from gas inhalation and other injuries.

Riyad Mansour, Palestinian representative at the UN, voiced disappointment that the security council did not condemn what he called a “heinous massacre”

On April 6, Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, the IDF’s spokesman to the foreign press and head of social media, emphasized that 10 of the Palestinians killed last week had been active Hamas members.

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Protesters gather near the border of Gaza city and Israel, April 6, 2018 (Seth J. Frantzman)

Friday April 6

In lead-up to protests B’tselemn released statement about “why soldiers must refuse to fire at unarmed protesters.”

Jason Greenblatt, US President Donald Trump’s Special Representative for International Negotiations urged Palestinian protesters to remain peaceful.

The EU’s office in Israel called for “utmost restraint” on both sides and encouraged Israel to “respect right to peaceful protest.”

The UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has also urged on Thursday for “all parties to refrain from any act that could lead to further violence or place civilians, especially children, in harms way.

Palestinians begin burning tires at 10am at five points along the fence. They planned a “day of the tires” as part of the protest to obscure attempt to reach the fence.

20,000 estimated to have gathered at the five locations.

Hamas leader Yehya al-Sinwar, spoke at a protest encampment, saying the protesters “enemy who besieges us.” He said the demonstrations would continue, telling the crowds: “We will uproot the borders, we will pluck out their hearts, and we will pray in Jerusalem.”

Ashraf al-Qidra, spokesman for the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza, 150 had been injured by mid-day. The spokesman said the number had climbed to 252 by mid-afternoon and 780 by nightfall.

Nine Palestinians killed.

Palestinian Red Crescent: 704 Palestinians were injured, 326 from live fire and 298 from tear gas.

The Hamas-run Health Ministry said 1,354 were injured, of which 491 of the injuries were from live fire

Yaser Murtaja, a Palestinian cameraman, was shot and killed while wearing a press-style blue vest, was shot and killed near Khan Yunis. Israel later accused him of being a Hamas officer while the IFJ accused Israel of a “fabricating lies” regarding his death.

 

Friday April 13

On the eve of the protests the Hamas run health ministry published statistics about total killed and wounded in two weeks, claiming 3,078 had been injured and 30 killed and 1,236 hit with live fireScreen Shot 2018-04-13 at 7.45.33 PM.

Gazans prepare throughout the night in camps near the border

A handful of Israelis show solidarity with Gaza’s protests near Yad Mordechai junction

By 3pm Gaza’s health ministry said 100 had been injured.

Joe Dyke AFP: “Numbers of protesters far smaller than previous week, with few thousands rather than tens, colleagues say. Gaza’s rulers Hamas this week been briefing they want to calm it down for a couple of weeks before fresh push ahead of US moving Israel embassy on May 14.”

Palestinians burned Israeli flags.

IDF: 10,000 rioted along Gaza border

Yediot Ahronot’s Yehoshua Yosi posts video of Israelis on the frontline next to Gaza.

Gaza health ministry:  “363 different injuries and gas inhalation, including 14 medical staff and journalists in the eastern Strip.”

7:30pm 528 wounded, 122 with live fire

Jpost: Palestinians tried to use a “A kite bomb with a Molotov cocktail” during the protests.

Amnesty International tweet: “end to the excessive and lethal force used to suppress Palestinian demonstrations.”

Israel Defense Minister Liberman at 5pm: “From week to week, there are fewer riots on our border with Gaza. Our resolve is well understood on the other side.”

 

 

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