Three Palestinians, including two children, were fatally shot during the 18th consecutive Friday of protests held under the banner of the Great March of Return in the occupied Gaza Strip.
Ghazi Muhammad Abu Mustafa, 43, died after he was shot in the head by Israeli soldiers east of Khan Younis in southern Gaza.
Abu Mustafa’s wife, Lamia, a nurse and paramedic, treated her husband for an injury during a protest more than a month ago, according to Dr. Ashraf al-Qedra, the health ministry spokesperson in Gaza.
Lamia Abu Mustafa was working again this Friday when her husband was brought in with a fatal gunshot wound to the head, al-Qedra said, giving his praise to Gaza’s medical workers for their endurance amid great personal pain and suffering.
On Saturday, Mumin Fathi al-Hams had died from gunshot injuries he sustained on Friday during protests east of Rafah.
Defense for Children International Palestine said that the slain youth, shot in the back, was 16 years old:
Some 150 others were injured during Friday’s protests, most of them by live fire, including children, women, paramedics and journalists. Six were reported to be in serious condition.
Journalists under attack
Israeli forces shot a freelance journalist covering the protests in Rafah last Friday.
The bullet went through Zaki Yahya Awadallah’s “right leg below the knee, severing the artery, and pierced his left leg,” the Committee to Protect Journalists stated.
Awadallah was not wearing any protective gear that identified him as a journalist at the time, according to the international press freedom watchdog.
“Awadallah said on Facebook on 21 July that the artery in his right leg was ligated and he is in stable condition,” the Committee to Protect Journalists stated.
The group added that Awadallah has been covering the protests since they began on 30 March, posting photos to his Facebook page.
The same day that Awadallah was shot, the Committee to Protect Journalists added, freelance photojournalist Hiba Awad was hit in an arm with a tear gas canister.
Two Palestinian journalists have been killed while covering the protests.
Last Friday a journalist learned that her brother had been killed in an Israeli attack when she rushed to the scene of heavy artillery shelling against a Hamas monitoring post in eastern Khan Younis.
“My brother’s remains were lying in pieces in front of me, and I didn’t know,” Maryam Abu Daqqa stated.
More than 150 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza since the launch of the Great March of Return.
Nearly 200 Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank have been slain by Israeli occupation forces and armed civilians since the beginning of the year.
Eight Israelis were killed by Palestinians during the same period.
Settler and Palestinian assailant killed
On Thursday night, a Palestinian stabbed three Israelis in the West Bank settlement of Adam, killing one.
The slain Israeli was identified as Yotam Ovadia, 31.
The suspected assailant, Muhammad Tareq Yusif Abu Ayyush, 17, was reportedly shot and killed by an armed civilian.
While Palestinian political factions praised Abu Ayyush’s attack, the mayor of his hometown, Kobar, reportedly condemned the slaying and urged the Israeli military to spare the home of the boy’s family.
“His parents and siblings had nothing to do with what he did. They do not deserve to pay the price for the actions of one of their family members,” mayor Izzat Badwan stated.
Israeli soldiers raided West Bank village overnight and took measurements of the Abu Ayyush home, as the army typically does in advance of revenge demolitions of the homes of suspected Palestinian assailants.
Another home in the village was razed in a punitive home demolition after a teen resident stabbed and killed three Israelis in a nearby settlement last year.
Such demolitions constitute collective punishment and are prohibited under international law.
The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that Abu Ayyush’s family members were interrogated and four were taken in “for further investigation.”
Early Friday, the military closed entrances to the village, razed roads and placed dirt mounds on its main street, a habitual form of collective punishment.
“Violent clashes erupted between Palestinian youths and Israeli forces on the road leading up to the Kobar village afterwards, during which Israeli forces fired stun grenades and tear gas bombs towards the youths,” the Ma’an News Agency reported.
Israeli defense minister Avigdor Lieberman approved the construction of 400 housing units in Adam settlement following the stabbing.
Meanwhile the Israeli army “is not ruling out the possibility of assassinating” the Palestinian fighter who shot and killed an Israeli soldier along the Gaza-Israel boundary last Friday, Haaretz reported.
Such an extrajudicial execution would constitute a war crime under international law
Three Palestinians were killed in a firefight last Friday after the soldier was killed, and Israel bombed dozens of sites across Gaza, as the territory teetered on the brink of a full-out confrontation between Israel and Hamas.
Haaretz reported this week that the Israeli military wishes to complete construction of a “protective wall” along the already fenced off Gaza boundary before any new major confrontation with Hamas.
“Construction is slated to end by the end of 2019 and the army would prefer not to be dragged into an extensive round of fighting until then,” Haaretz stated.
UNRWA job cuts
The socio-economic situation in Gaza took another turn for the worse this week after UNRWA, the United Nations agency for Palestine refugees, announced the loss of 250 jobs in the occupied Palestinian territories.
More than 100 of those jobs are in Gaza, where half the population is unemployed.
The jobs were cut as a result of the Trump administration withholding $300 million in funding to the humanitarian agency in an effort to strongarm the Palestinian leadership into going along with US-brokered negotiations with Israel.
The commissioner-general of UNRWA described the cuts in funding from the US, the agency’s single largest donor, as an “existential threat” to its work providing assistance to millions of Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan.
Meanwhile in the Old City of Jerusalem on Friday, Israeli occupation forces stormed the al-Aqsa mosque compound, attacking and injuring worshippers and temporarily shuttering the holy site.
Worshippers “of all ages [were] caught by surprise by the police onslaught, scrambling for safety,” the Palestinian news agency WAFA reported.
Israeli occupation forces launched stun and gas grenades at crowds of Palestinians in the courtyards of the mosque:
Palestinian worshippers had held a peaceful march in the mosque to mark a year since sustained mass protests succeeded in getting Israel to remove newly installed metal detectors and security cameras.
The mufti of Jerusalem said that Friday’s attack on worshippers was part of a greater Israeli effort to change the status quo at the Muslim holy site.
Right-wing Israeli activists backed by government officials have gained significant ground in their goal to take over the compound in the last year. The so-called Temple Movement seeks to destroy the al-Aqsa mosque and replace it with a Jewish temple.
Israeli police claimed that rioters launched fireworks at them after afternoon prayers, The Jerusalem Post reported.
Israeli occupation forces stormed the interior of the mosque and evacuated worshippers:
Israeli forces temporarily chained shut the doors to the mosque:
Palestinians marched back to the mosque after it was reopened:
More than 40 Palestinians were injured by police on Friday, WAFA reported.
Israeli forces arrested more than a dozen Palestinians after beating some of them.
Tamara Nassar contributed reportage.
This article has been updated since initial publication to include the death of Mumin Fathi al-Hams and to correct the name of the child Majdi Ramzi Kamal al-Satari.