Dozens of Palestinians injured as protests enter third week

While Hamas in Gaza quickly voiced support for the protests, the relative tardiness with which its main rival Fatah expressed its encouragement from the West Bank highlighted the underlying Palestinian political divide.

One Palestinian has been killed during fresh unrest along the Israel/Gaza border, as thousands of Palestinians gathered for mass protests.

The first development was the slaughter of Palestinian protesters on the Gaza border on March 30. A US State Department official said that the US Agency for International Development (USAID) had recently vetted and approved an $11,700 grant to Ein Media.

A third Palestinian was injured with live bullets in eastern Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip.

Among the wounded is a journalist identified as Ahmad Abu Hussein, who was seriously shot in the abdomen, and Mohammad Najjar, who was shot in the shoulder.

Israel accuses Hamas, the Islamist movement that runs Gaza of using the protests as cover to carry out violence.

On Friday, most of the demonstrators assembled in five tent camps located several hundred metres from the border fence.

Israeli forces fired tear gas, rubber-coated steel pellets and live rounds.

It added that Palestinians took part in violent protests, with demonstrators throwing an explosive device and firebombs at Israeli troops.

Across the fence on the Israeli side, sniper teams lay low on sandbanks overlooking the area.

Israel claimed he was a paid member of Hamas, but produced no evidence.

Gaza has often been called the largest open-air prison because of the decade-long blockade imposed by Israel and enforced both by Israel and Egypt. Report by the United Nations have revealed that Gaza will be uninhabitable by 2020 due to the destruction of infrastructure in Israel's periodic bombings of the Strip and the blockade, which has severely limited Gazans ability to rebuild.

The blockade has driven Gaza deeper into poverty, with unemployment approaching 50 per cent and electricity available for less than five hours a day.

They will culminate on 15 May, the 70th annual commemoration of what Palestinians call the Nakba, or Catastrophe, of the displacement of hundreds of thousands of their people in the war which followed Israel's creation in 1948. The camp was decked out in Palestinian flags.

In northern Gaza, a large Israeli flag was burned that had earlier been set on the ground for protesters to walk over.

Critics argue that Hamas' refusal to disarm is a key reason for the continued blockade.

The Israeli establishment refuses an investigation and believes that the soldiers acted correctly, but one must ask, how is shooting civilians acceptable?

The protests have seen some 2,870 people injured between March 30 and April 11. This is significantly less than in the previous demonstrations over the past two weeks.

No Israelis have been killed during the demonstrations, and human rights groups say the Israeli military has used live fire against demonstrators who pose no immediate threat to life.

  • Rogelio Becker