At least 15 killed when Israeli soldiers open fire during mass demonstrations in Gaza.
“There is fear that the situation might deteriorate in the coming days.”
— Tayé-Brook Zerihoun, assistant UN secretary general for political affairs
Gaza hospitals, running low on blood and overstretched by the huge number of wounded, were reeling after one of the enclave’s bloodiest days outside of open war, in which Israeli soldiers shot 773 people with live ammunition, according to the ministry of health.
Fifteen of the wounded died, said the ministry spokesperson Dr Ashraf al-Qidra. “Most of the dead were aged between 17 and 35 years old,” he said. “The injuries were on the upper part of the body.” He added that the remainder of the wounded, some of whom were in a critical condition, had been “shot with live ammunition.”
The violence erupted on Friday after mass demonstrations took place demanding the right of return for Palestinian refugees and their descendants to land in Israel.
Tens of thousands of people, including women and children, had planned to camp several hundred metres from the Israeli frontier, which surrounds the 140-square-mile Gaza strip on two sides, on the first day of a peaceful, six-week protest.
But from the main camps, groups of mostly young men approached the border at several locations and started throwing stones and burning tires. Soldiers responded by opening fire throughout the day.
More than 1,400 people were wounded, mostly by bullets but also rubber-coated rounds and tear-gas inhalation, the health ministry said.