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The death toll in the Palestinian Great March of Return continues to rise, as Israeli soldiers open fire on peaceful Palestinian protesters. The protest rally held on the Gaza strip on Friday, June 29th, resulted in 176 people injured by gunfire and 2 people killed, adding to the death toll of 135 people since the protest began in March, leaving 15,000 people injured. These deaths and injuries are caused by gunshot wounds as Palestinians rally for the return to a state they called home 70 years ago. It is also backed by frustration with the condition they are forced to live in with a naval and air blockade from Egypt and Israel, creating situations of despair in Gaza. The use of military force against the Palestinians needs to be stopped, as these people are only using their right to freedom of expression within their own territory.
The Palestinian protests on the Gaza strip have been occurring every Friday since March 30th, 2018. The June 29th protest was the first demonstration by women and their children who came from cities across Gaza as reported by Al Jazeera, and Irmana, a Palestinian woman, stated, “These demonstrations are peaceful. We are only defending our land and our rights,” after their race experienced ethnic cleansing from the year 1948, which saw 750,000 Palestinians forced from their homes as Israel was established as a state. The protest of the Palestinians is symbolic for the anniversary, but also shows how the generations that came after those removed from Israel still stand for their rights to a voice and for return from persecution.
The Palestinian people are lawfully and non-violently voicing their opinions on their settlement land, but Israel is illegally using force against them, in what it seems to quash such uprising and show dominance over the Palestinian population. In opening fire, Israeli’s have killed and injured children, and many of the protesters are shot from behind, while not threatening Israeli forces. Magdalena Mughrabi, Deputy Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International, stated that “international condemnation is doing little to stop the Israel army and that the forces are using snipers, open fire and tear gas on unarmed protesters.”
Amnesty International emphasizes the flow of arms into Israel needs to be stopped. This is not a resolution, but at least removing the availability of weapons which they are using against the protesters. The United States of America is the biggest supplier of arms to Israel, but European Union countries have also sent cargoes of weaponry. These powers need to stop this supply of military goods to reduce the attacks occurring across the border, showing that as international actors they do not accept this inhumane and illegal retaliation.
Another impact affecting the Palestinians is the living conditions in Gaza, which are causing desperation and anger, adding to the protester turnout. The amount of aid is only deteriorating as decreased funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees means that aid cuts have occurred and will continue into the month of July, with the potential to escalate frustration with living conditions. While a political resolution still appears unreachable at this present time, there are some measure that can be taken to try and reduce the anger and frustration of Palestinians and the ability to inflict violence by the Israelis through military supplies. The temporary abilities of these solutions is clear, and until the international community can come to an agreement under the UN Security Council for total peace; any consideration to improve the condition on the Gaza-Israel border should be made.