Israeli forces shot and killed at least two Palestinians during protests held under the slogan of “Resistance is Our Choice” along Gaza’s eastern boundary on Friday.
In addition to those killed by Israeli live fire, a 12-year-old boy, Shadi Abd al-Al, died of internal bleeding after being hit in the head by a hard object during a demonstration in Jabaliya, in the north of the Gaza Strip, according to the rights group Al Mezan.
“The nature of the object that hit and killed him has not been fully established at the publication of this press release,” the group stated late Friday.
The two Palestinians killed by live fire on Friday were identified as Hani Ramzi Afaneh, 21, and Muhammad Shaqoura, 20.
More than 130 Palestinians have been killed during the Great March of Return protests and around 20,000 have been injured, nearly 5,000 by live ammunition.
More than 100 were wounded by live fire during Friday’s protests, including 14 children, according to Al Mezan.
Palestinian killed at boundary fence
Another Palestinian, Atef Muhammad Saleh, 32, was killed by Israeli occupation forces earlier in the week while allegedly attempting to damage the militarized fence along the Gaza boundary.
Israel claimed that the man was evacuated for medical treatment and later died of his injuries.
The Ma’an News Agency reported that Israeli soldiers prevented Palestinian ambulances from reaching Saleh for more than half an hour, “during which he succumbed to his injuries.”
A United Nations human rights official has previously stated that attempts to breach or damage the Gaza-Israel boundary fence “do not amount to a threat to life or serious injury and are not sufficient grounds for the use of live ammunition.”
“This is also the case with regards to stones and Molotov cocktails being thrown from a distance at well-protected security forces located behind defensive positions,” Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said in May.
Human rights groups including Amnesty International have previously condemned the failure of Israeli forces to provide medical aid to Palestinians they have wounded, or for preventing Palestinian medics from doing so.
“It is a basic duty under international law to provide medical aid to the wounded, and failure to do so – especially intentional failure – violates the prohibition on torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment,” according to Amnesty.
The International Criminal Court stated this week that it would “continue to do its work undeterred” after John Bolton, national security adviser to President Donald Trump, said that the US would sanction court officials and seek their prosecution if they pursue investigations into alleged American war crimes in Afghanistan or those committed by Israel.
The situation in Palestine has been under preliminary examination by the prosecutor’s office since 2015 and earlier this year the prosecutor warned that Israeli leaders may face trial for the killings of unarmed protesters in the Gaza Strip.
In a sign the ICC may be edging towards an unprecedented challenge to Israeli impunity, a panel of judges ordered court officials last July to begin reaching out to victims of war crimes in Palestine.
Great March of Return to continue
A Hamas spokesperson on Friday confirmed that the weekly Great March of Return protests that began at the end of March would continue but with wider participation and “new tools and means to realize its full aims.”
“The occupation’s bet on the policy of biding its time is failing and will not bring it calm and stability along the boundary with Gaza,” Abd al-Latif al-Qanou added, as indirect talks between Israel and Hamas over Gaza’s future had reportedly stalled.
Last week Yahya Sinwar, the leader of Hamas in Gaza, said that his faction and other resistance groups in the territory would break the siege by any means necessary and within the coming weeks.
The steering committee of the Great March of Return meanwhile called for mass participation in next week’s protest, which would mark the 26th consecutive week of demonstrations.
The committee decried the failed efforts of 25 years of peace negotiations under the framework of the Oslo accords and called “for a great national alignment … on the basis of the abolition of recognition of the Zionist entity.”
The committee called on Arab and Muslim nations “to restore as their first cause the cause of Palestine and Jerusalem.”