Around 40 children have been killed and many injured in one year of demonstrations along the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel, the United Nations said Thursday, calling for an “urgent de-escalation.”
Thousands of Palestinians have gathered at least weekly along the border in protests that have led to deadly crackdowns by the Israeli military.
Demonstrators are calling for Israel to lift its crippling decade-long blockade of Gaza, while also demanding refugees be allowed to return to homes their families fled in the late 1940s during the creation of the Jewish state.
Around 40 children have been killed in the protests and “nearly 3,000 others have been hospitalized with injuries, many leading to life-long disabilities,” the U.N. children’s agency (UNICEF) said.
“UNICEF reiterates its outrage at the very high numbers of children who have been killed and injured as a result of armed conflict 2018,” said UNICEF’s Middle East director Geert Cappelaere.
He called on both sides to “ensure children are not targeted.”
Tomorrow Palestinians in Gaza will protest again at the walls of the cage Israel has built around Gaza marking a year of weekly protests in the Great Return March. Read this from Ahmad Abu Artema, the organizer who got it started on why its so importanthttps://t.co/xPOHYkBD7n
— (((YousefMunayyer))) (@YousefMunayyer) March 28, 2019
“Exploiting children’s lack of sense of purpose and vulnerabilities or enlisting them into violence are violations of children’s rights.”
A U.N. probe released in late February said Israel may have committed crimes against humanity in responding to last year’s unrest in Gaza, as snipers “intentionally” shot civilians including children, journalists and the disabled.
In total, 258 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire in Gaza since the protests began, most during border clashes.
Two Israeli soldiers have also been killed over the same period.
Israel says its response is necessary to defend the border and accuses Hamas, with whom it has fought three wars, of orchestrating violence there.
The UNICEF statement follows another severe flare-up this week between Hamas and Israel, with a rocket attack from the Gaza Strip that sparked retaliatory air strikes.
A mass border protest planned for Saturday to mark the first anniversary of the demonstrations has raised fears of further violence.
More on the Subject
A U.N. probe released Thursday said Israel may have committed crimes against humanity in responding to last year’s unrest in Gaza, as snipers “intentionally” shot civilians including children, journalists and the disabled.
Commission member Sara Hossain told reporters in Geneva that Israeli snipers “intentionally shot children.”
“They have intentionally shot people with disabilities. They have intentionally shot journalists,” she added.
Israel rejected the report “outright,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.