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  • Palestinian demonstrators take cover from Israeli gunfire and tear gas during a protest at the Israel-Gaza border fence east of Gaza City.

    Palestinian demonstrators take cover from Israeli gunfire and tear gas during a protest at the Israel-Gaza border fence east of Gaza City. | Photo: Reuters

Published 30 March 2019

"We fear that more children could be injured or killed today," Jeremy Stoner, regional director of Save the Children said.

Israeli forces Saturday killed two 17-year-old boys and wounded 207 others using live rounds, rubber bullets and tear gas on protesters in the one-year anniversary of the weekly March of Return protests in Gaza.

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Thousands of Palestinians Mark 1st Anniversary of Great March of Return

Tamer Aby el-Khair was shot in the chest east of Khan Yunis in southern Gaza and died at the hospital, while Adham Amara, another teen, died after being shot in the face east of Gaza City, according to Gaza's health ministry.

A third Palestinian was killed during an overnight demonstration ahead of the main protest.

"We will move towards the borders even if we die," said Yusef Ziyada, 21, his face painted in the colors of the Palestinian flag. "We are not leaving. We are returning to our land."

Though there was heavy rain, roughly 40,000 people gathered at the frontier, the Israeli army said.

More than 260 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli troops and over 7,000 wounded by Israeli forces since The Great March of Return border demonstrations began happening on a weekly basis on March 30, 2018. So far, one Israeli soldier has been killed by a Palestinian sniper.

Save the Children, a rights group, said 50 children were among those killed. Another 21 children had their limbs amputated and many more have been permanently disabled, said Jeremy Stoner, the group's regional director. "We fear that more children could be injured or killed today," Stoner said.

Palestinians are demanding the right to return to lands from which their families were violently expelled during the founding of Israel in 1948. They are also calling for an end to Israel's and Egypt's 12-year blockade of Gaza.

The Great March of Return are demonstrations for the right for Palestinians to return to lands from which their ancestors fled or were forced to flee in 1948 during Israel's founding in a war known as the Nakba or “The Catastrophe” by Palestinians. Protesters are also calling for an end to the Israeli blockade of Gaza, home to two million people.

The weekly protests reached their peak on May 14, 2018 when over 50 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces as demonstrators commemorated the anniversary of the Palestinian exodus from the Nakba.

Israel has waged three wars on Gaza since Hamas took control of the territory in 2007. Israeli airstrikes in retaliation for rockets from Gaza are a frequent occurrence. However, Palestinians were bracing themselves Monday for a new full-blown attack as two Israeli brigades were assigned to the Gaza border which hadn’t happened since the 2014 Gaza war that killed as many as 2,310 Palestinians in the impoverished strip, compared to under a dozen Israeli civilians.

Tensions between Gaza and Israel have been running higher than unusual since March 14 when two rockets were launched into Tel Aviv causing no damage or injury. No group took responsibility for the attack but Israel has responded by launching over 100 rockets at the strip since that time.


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