400 Palestinians wounded in Gaza protests

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Gaza, June 8 : Some 400 Palestinians, including two journalists, were wounded by Israeli fire or treated for tear gas inhalation poisoning, during protests at the Gaza-Israel separation fence, officials from the Gaza’s Health Ministry said on Friday.

Two reporters were among the wounded: Mohamed al-Baba, an AFP photographer, who was shot in the right leg, as well as an unidentified cameraman from Al-Aqsa television (affiliated with Hamas) who suffered moderate wounds from being hit with a can of tear gas, health ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qedra was quoted by Efe news agency as saying.

Al-Qedra denounced Israeli army soldiers who fired tear gas against ambulances trying to help the wounded east of Khan Yunis, in the southern Gaza Strip while protest organisers put the number of demonstrators at 10,000.

Israeli Defence Forces spokesperson’s Twitter account, however, put the number of demonstrators at about 4,000, stating that the protesters gathered at around 3 p.m. at five border points between the Gaza strip and Israel with some of the protesters burning tires.

The IDF spokesperson Twitter feed said that in response to the border protests “IDF troops are using riot dispersal means and operating in accordance with the rules of engagement… to defend Israeli civilians in the area surrounding the Gaza Strip… from the Hamas-led attempts to conduct terror attacks”.

The demonstration, titled the “March of a Million to Jerusalem”, marked the 11th consecutive Friday of protests which are part of the larger “Great March of Return” movement, a protest movement which has resulted in many clashes between the IDF and Palestinians and more than 120 Palestinian deaths from Israeli army fire.

From the megaphones of different mosques Palestinian factions urged the population to participate in the protest, which coincided with the last Friday of Ramadan, the holy month of fasting for Muslims; a majority of Palestinians consider themselves adherents of Islam.

This week also marked on Tuesday the 51st commemoration of the start of the Six Day War in 1967 and the subsequent occupation of eastern Jerusalem by Israel, a point made consistently by demonstrators throughout Friday’s protest.

At the protest in Khan Yunis, Sabrine al-Najjar – the mother of volunteer medic Razan al-Najjar, who was killed last week by Israeli fire – put on her daughter’s health worker vest, with the bullet hole in it, to denounce Razan’s death.

Dawood Shihab, spokesman for the Islamic Jihad in Gaza, thanked thousands of international protesters for showing their solidarity with the Palestinians, adding that the marches are peaceful and will continue at whatever the price.