ISRAELI snipers opened fire on unarmed Palestinian protestors today for the third week running, leaving hundreds needing hospital treatment.
Gaza Health Authority officials reported 701 people injured by Israeli forces, with many of them treated for the effects of tear gas, in the latest mass demonstration of the Great Return March protests.
One of the most serious injuries reported was of journalist Ahmad Abu Hussein from Gaza, who was shot in the abdomen. He remains in a serious condition.
This follows last week’s killing of Palestinian journalist Yasir Murtaja, who worked for Ain Media, despite him wearing a clearly marked jacket and blue helmet showing his profession.
Israeli forces warned that those who approached the border fences risked being shot, while sources on the ground alleged that press and media vehicles were deliberately targeted.
The Ministry of Health reported that a medical tent had been targeted, causing 10 medical workers to suffer the effects of tear gas, and the Palestinian Red Crescent said one of its medics had been shot near Rafah.
More than 1,000 Palestinians have been injured since the demonstrations started three weeks ago and more than 30 have been killed.
Israel’s actions have been condemned by human rights groups and International Criminal Court chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda warned that the shootings could constitute war crimes.
Today’s protests saw thousands of Palestinians set up tents along the border fence in Gaza, whose two million residents have been besieged by Israel and Egypt since 2007.
As well as daily protests, mass demonstrations have taken place every Friday since March 30 demanding recognition of Palestinian refugees’ right to return to their pre-1948 homes.
They are set to continue until Naqba Day, May 15, which commemorates the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians by the nascent Israeli state 70 years ago.
During today’s protests, a giant Palestinian flag was unfurled and protesters burned tyres to block the view of Israeli snipers.
Five former snipers said the killings in Gaza have filled them with “shame and sorrow.”
In a statement released by Israeli human rights group Breaking the Silence, they said: "Instructing snipers to shoot to kill unarmed demonstrators who pose no danger to human life is another product of the occupation and military rule over millions of Palestinian people, as well as of our country’s callous leadership and derailed moral path.”
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