More than 250 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces and over 23,000 were injured since the start of the Great Return March a UN report said on Monday.
“Since 30 March 2018, the Gaza Strip has witnessed a significant increase in Palestinian casualties in the context of mass demonstrations and other activities along Israel’s perimeter fence with Gaza, taking place as part of the Great Return March, as well as during hostilities and access related incidents” a report by United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said.
The report had raised concerns for the safety of the unarmed Palestinians marching for their right to return:
“The large number of casualties among unarmed Palestinian demonstrators, including a high percentage of demonstrators hit by live ammunition, has raised concerns about excessive use of force by Israeli troops."
"Exposure of children to violence and lack of protection for medical teams are also of concern. Despite significant assistance provided, addressing the resulting multi-sectoral needs of the mass influx of casualties remains challenging due to the lack of funds, years of blockade, the internal divide and a chronic energy crisis”, the report added.
Gaza border tensions have soared since the 30 March start of what the Palestinians call the "Great Return March", a mass protest movement demanding the right for Palestinians to return to homes they fled or were expelled from during the war surrounding Israel's creation.
The protests also call for the lifting of a crippling decade-long Israeli and Egyptian blockade.
Protesters have often moved right up to the border fence every Friday and occasionally breached it.
Hundreds of Palestinians have since been killed, mostly by Israeli fire during border clashes but also by air strikes.
Two Israeli soldiers have been killed over the same period.
The demonstrations draw Palestinians of all ages, but most gather several hundred metres from the fence. Israeli forces across the border often respond with tear gas, rubber-coated bullets and even live fire.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
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