Tuesday, June 02, 2020

IDF shoot “Great March of Return” paramedic in the head

By J.J. Rhies - April 23, 2019
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [Gaza] [fishermen] [IDF]

 A paramedic was shot in the head and 33 were injured during “Great March of Return” protests along the Israel-Gaza perimeter fence on Friday, April 19.


Israeli military forces shot Ahmed Weshah, a Palestinian Red Crescent Society paramedic, with a rubber-coated steel bullet, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza. He is now being treated at Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Gaza.


Among the 33 injured were four journalists and four additional paramedics. A Gaza health ministry spokesperson also said Israeli forces wounded at least five demonstrators with live ammunition by 7pm local time (GMT+3).


That same day, Israeli air and land forces bombed two Hamas “military positions,” according to an Israel Defence Forces (IDF) statement. The IDF conducted airstrikes and launched tank rockets at targets east of Gaza City and the Bureij refugee camp.


The strikes were a response to IDF claims that its forces came under gunfire near the Israel-Gaza separation fence that day. No group has yet declared responsibility for the alleged attack.


No casualties from the Israeli strikes have been reported.


The “Great March of Return” protests along the Israel-Gaza perimeter began more than a year ago, on March 30, 2018, in response to conditions in the coastal enclave that the United Nations previously described as “unliveable” by 2020.


Doctors Without Borders (MSF) reported last month that Israeli forces shot more than 6,800 Palestinian protesters with live ammunition since the demonstrations began, resulting in 277 deaths, including 52 children.



91 per cent of gunshot victims were hit in the limbs which, according to an opinion piece published by  Al Jazeera, could be "a policy of intentionally maiming protesters."

Since the protests started, IDF personnel have injured a total of almost 30,000 Palestinians by firing tear gas canisters, rubber-coated steel bullets and live ammunition.


Fishermen’s livelihoods - and lives - at risk


Friday morning also saw Israeli naval forces open fire at fishermen off the coast of the southern Gaza Strip, Ma’an News Agency reported.


No casualties from the gunfire have been announced.  


Such incidents are typical, according to fisherman Ibrahim Haniya.


“Almost every day, we receive news about our friends at sea coming under Israeli shelling or being sprayed with skunk water, or fired at with rubber bullets and live ammunition,” Haniya told Al Jazeera.


After Egypt brokered an Israel-Hamas cease-fire last month, Israel eased its restriction of fishermen’s mobility, letting them trawl up to 15 nautical miles off the coast in some places, which is the largest fishing zone allowed by Israel since the 1993 Oslo Accords.  


But some Gazan fishermen say the expanded zone is not sufficient.


Zakaria Bakr, head of the Gaza fishermen’s union, told Al Jazeera new equipment must be imported in order for fishermen to take advantage of the expansion. But Israel’s restriction on products with both civil and military uses, known as dual-use goods, prevents most of such equipment from being imported.


“We can only import plastic fishing wires to make fishing nets, nothing more,” Bakr said.


Hassan Zidan, another fisherman, said they need bigger boats and better navigational systems, too, “but we can’t get any of this.”


Israel’s restrictions on fishing and import items severely limit the ability of thousands of fishermen to provide for their families.


The beset Gaza Strip, which former UK prime minister David Cameron once described as an “open-air prison,” has been under siege since 2007.


Unemployment and poverty in the territory, which is home to 2.2 million people, has skyrocketed since the blockade began.


UN officials, Amnesty International and others have called the blockade “collective punishment,” which is unlawful.

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