Palestinians have protested for the third day as part of the annual “March of Return” to commemorate Land Day, braving Israeli tanks and snipers deployed along the Gaza fence where 17 protesters were killed a few days ago.
At least 50 people were injured on Sunday as Israeli forces shot at Palestinian protesters in the city of Jabalia and elsewhere in the Gaza Strip. Several dozen protesters suffered suffocation due to inhaling teargas.
Clashes have been ongoing since Friday when tens of thousands of Palestinians began a six-week march near the fence to demand what they say is their right to return to the homes of their families in what is now called Israel.
Israel has responded ferociously to the rally and as of Sunday, at least 17 Palestinians have been shot dead and more than 1,450 others injured.
Palestinians have called the rally a “peaceful demonstration” in order to raise international awareness of the plight the displaced Palestinians are struggling with and take the chance to express their anger towards the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip.
The demonstration has humanitarian and political purposes, Palestinian political expert Akram Atallah told Reuters on Sunday.
“With regard to the humanitarian aspect, life in Gaza is like hell and this mainly due to the blockade. The public has called for putting an end to that situation,” the news agency quoted him as saying.
Israeli authorities have branded the rally as a “riot,” deploying at least 100 snipers and Merkava tanks near the fence in a show of force which has been denounced as “disproportionate” around the world.
They have claimed to be targeting protesters posing a threat to what they call the Israeli border but footage showing Palestinians being shot while praying or running away from the fence has discredited those allegations.