430 injured as IDF targets Great March of Return protesters – Palestinian Health Ministry

430 injured as IDF targets Great March of Return protesters – Palestinian Health Ministry
Palestinian protesters have gathered along the Gaza-Israel border for the sixth successive week. Friday’s demonstration seeks to highlight the high rates of unemployment in the Gaza Strip.

At least 431 protesters have been injured so far, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. Of those, 70 sustained wounds from Israeli live fire. Thirtysix children and three journalists are among the injured.

A spokesperson for the ministry said two ambulances were targeted by Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) during the unemployment demonstrations. Some 40 percent of Gaza’s residents remain jobless.

The IDF has issued a statement on Twitter, claiming more than 7,000 Palestinians have been “rioting” along the Gaza border. “Rioters hurled an explosive device at IDF troops who are responding with riot dispersal means & fire in accordance with the rules of engagement,” the forces said.

Meanwhile, dozens of pro-Palestinian Israelis staged a rally on the Gaza border kibbutz of Yad Mordechai, Friday, denouncing the violence.  One of the protesters, an Israeli Arab and member of the Knesset, Jamal Zahalka, branded Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a war criminal.

"We are here to say that Israel should stop killing Palestinian demonstrators in Gaza, that Israeli soldiers and the Israeli army is killing unarmed demonstrators and this is criminal, it’s a war crime,” he told Ruptly.

It’s the penultimate week of the Great March of Return with the protest due to reach its crescendo on May 15 to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the foundation of the State of Israel. Palestinians mark it as Nakba day, meaning ‘Day of the Catastrophe.’

According to the Gaza Health Ministry, 45 people have been killed since protests began on March 30, while almost 6,800 have been injured. Among the dead are two Palestinian journalists Yasser Murtaja and Ahmed Abou Hussein, both men were shot by Israeli army snipers despite pictures showing “PRESS” emblazoned across the front of their protective jackets.

On Thursday, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), in response to a high court petition from human rights groups about the IDF’s use of live ammunition against protesters, said that human rights law does not apply to the protests because it falls into the category of a state of war and therefore the IDF has acted according to Israeli and international law.

Israeli newspaper Haaretz reports the state claimed that the demonstrations “were part of hostile acts by Hamas against Israel” and that: “The state opposes the applying of human rights law during an armed conflict.”

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