20 Palestinians Hurt in Gaza Border Clashes

Saturday, 16 February, 2019 - 10:30
Gaza- Asharq Al-Awsat

Palestinian medical officials said that 20 Gazans were wounded on Friday by Israeli fire during weekly clashes on the border, while Israeli police said one officer was hurt by an explosive device.

“Twenty injuries by the Israeli occupation forces with live ammunition,” the Gaza Health Ministry said in a statement.

The Israeli army said that 11,000 “rioters and demonstrators” gathered at several points along the border barrier, with people throwing rocks at soldiers and the fence, as well as “several explosive devices and grenades” aimed at the troops.

“Troops responded with riot dispersal means and fired in accordance with standard operating procedures,” a military spokeswoman told AFP.

Israeli police said an officer operating at the border was lightly wounded by shrapnel in his leg.

Palestinians in Gaza have for nearly a year gathered at least weekly along the border for protests, calling on Israel to end its decade-long blockade of the enclave. At least 250 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since then, the majority shot during clashes, though others have been hit by tank fire or airstrikes.

Two Israeli soldiers have been killed over the same period.

Israel claims its actions are necessary to defend the border and stop infiltrations and attacks, which it accuses Hamas of seeking to orchestrate. Israel and Hamas have fought three wars since 2008.

Meanwhile, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres reiterated on Friday that a “peaceful and just solution” to the Israel-Palestine conflict can “only be achieved” through two States “living side-by-side in peace and security”.

In his address to the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, which was established by the UN General Assembly in 1975, Guterres said that “based on relevant UN resolutions, long-held principles, previous agreements and international law”, Jerusalem should be the capital of both States.

“Unfortunately, over this past year, the situation has not moved in that direction”, he continued, pointing to protests that began along the border fence with Gaza last year that left hundreds dead and thousands wounded by Israeli security forces.

“Thanks to UN and Egyptian mediation efforts, a major escalation was avoided”, he continued, appealing to Hamas authorities in Gaza to “prevent provocations”. The UN chief said that under International Humanitarian Law, “Israel, too, has a responsibility to exercise maximum restraint”, except as a last resort.

Guterres underscored that the UN firmly supports Palestinian reconciliation and “the return of the legitimate Palestinian Government to Gaza”, as “an integral part of a future Palestinian State”.

Spelling out that the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Gaza must be “immediately addressed”, he detailed that some two million Palestinians “remain mired in increasing poverty and unemployment, with limited access to adequate health, education, water and electricity”, leaving young people with “little prospect of a better future”.

“I urge Israel to lift restrictions on the movement of people and goods, which also hamper the efforts of the United Nations and other humanitarian agencies, without naturally jeopardizing legitimate security concerns,” the Secretary-General stated.

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