A Bloody Start To The ‘Great March Of Return’: 16 Dead, Hundreds Wounded

A march in Gaza to the Israeli border saw the deaths of at least 16 people this Friday. A 16-year-old boy was included in that number, marking the largest death toll since the summer of 2014 during the Israeli war on Gaza.

Thousands of Palestinians were gathered from across Gaza to complete the ‘Great March of Return’ – six weeks of protests which are set to end on May 15th. The demonstrations also known as ‘Land Day’ commenced March 30th, commemorating the death of six Palestinians who were killed by Israeli forces during the 1976 protests over land confiscation. Five tent encampments were established near the border fence, where Palestinians congregated as they awaited the beginning of a long journey.

A local news source reported that the Israeli Defense Force called for peaceful demonstrations, although anticipating for some disruption. Snipers were placed near the border to deter the planting of explosive devices near the security fence. Not long after the march began, the Israeli military opened fire into the masses, reportedly having a drone drop tear gas on thousands of Palestinians, stating that those who were killed were all trying to either breach or damage the border barrier.

It has been reported by the Palestinian Health Ministry that at least 500 Palestinians have been injured by Israeli forces including those who didn’t partake in the protests, such as a Palestinian farmer was killed by a tank shell while working in his field early Friday morning. It appears as though this is only the beginning of a bloody conflict.

Tayé-Brook Zerihoun, Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs in the UN, told the UN Security Council that the demonstrations “might deteriorate in the coming days,” making a plea that the lives of civilians and children be spared during this time of intense conflict.

The tireless clashing between regions speaks volumes about the volatility of a nation divided. How does everyone as a world justify prioritizing the life of one individual over another? How much more blood will soak the land that many so desperately wish to call home?