Photos: Tens of thousands march on Gaza border, Israeli troops open fire

At least 12 Palestinians are killed and 1,100 wounded as Israeli forces open fire on Palestinian protesters gathering at the Gaza-Israel border fence to mark the beginning of ‘The Great Return March,’ a 45-day-long series of events and protests planned to culminate on May 15 — Nakba Day. Despite using deadly force against the demonstrators Israeli army did not report a single casualty among its troops.

Photos by Mohammed Zaanoun, Oren Ziv (Activestills), and +972 Magazine
Text by +972 Magazine Staff

Palestinians tend to a boy who was shot in the leg by Israeli snipers during the Great Return March in Gaza, east of the Jabaliya refugee camp. March 30, 2018. (Mohammed Zaanoun / Activestills.org)
Palestinians tend to a boy who was shot in the leg by Israeli snipers during the Great Return March in Gaza, east of the Jabaliya refugee camp. March 30, 2018. (Mohammed Zaanoun / Activestills.org)

Tens of thousands of Palestinians protested at the Gaza-Israel border fence on Friday, marking the beginning of the “Great Return March,” a 45-day-long series of protests and events planned to culminate on May 15 — Nakba Day. The organizers of the Gaza return march had said explicitly that the protest was meant to be nonviolent yet Israeli forces fired live bullets and tear gas at the demonstrators.

Israeli troops killed at least 15 Palestinians during Friday’s protests, which took place at several points along the besieged coastal strip’s border. The Palestinian Ministry of Health reported that an additional 1,400 people were wounded, roughly half of them from Israeli army sniper fire. The Israeli army reported zero injuries among its troops.

Palestinian medics signal to Israeli soldiers that they are unarmed as they attempt to retrieve wounded protesters east of Jabaliya during the Gaza return march, seen from the Palestinian side. March 30, 2018. (Mohammed Zaanoun / Activestills.org)
Palestinian medics signal to Israeli soldiers that they are unarmed as they attempt to retrieve wounded protesters east of Jabaliya during the Gaza return march, seen from the Palestinian side. March 30, 2018. (Mohammed Zaanoun / Activestills.org)

 

Palestinian medics signal to Israeli soldiers that they are unarmed as they attempt to retrieve wounded Palestinians along the Gaza border fence, seen from the Israeli side, March 30, 2018. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)
Palestinian medics signal to Israeli soldiers that they are unarmed as they attempt to retrieve wounded Palestinians along the Gaza border fence, seen from the Israeli side, March 30, 2018. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

A number of youth threw a small number of stones and burned car tires.

 Mahmoud Jundieh, a 20-year-old unemployed man said, “We have nothing left to lose, we’ve lost everything. I’m not afraid to be a martyr at this point. I will stay here for 45 days, until representatives from around the world recognize our rights.”

Tens of thousands of Palestinians gathered at several points along the border as part of the Great March of Return, east of Shujaiyeh, Gaza Strip, March 30, 2018. (+972 Magazine)
Tens of thousands of Palestinians gathered at several points along the border as part of the Great March of Return, east of Shujaiyeh, Gaza Strip, March 30, 2018. (+972 Magazine)

 

Tens of thousands of Palestinians take part in the ‘Great Return March, east of Jabaliya. March 30, 2017. (Mohammed Zaanoun / Activestills.org)
Tens of thousands of Palestinians take part in the ‘Great Return March, east of Jabaliya. March 30, 2017. (Mohammed Zaanoun / Activestills.org)

 

A Palestinian medic carries a wounded Palestinian man away from the border fence during the Great Return March in Gaza, east of the Jabaliya refugee camp. March 30, 2018. (Mohammed Zaanoun / Activestills.org)
A Palestinian medic carries a wounded Palestinian man away from the border fence during the Great Return March in Gaza, east of the Jabaliya refugee camp. March 30, 2018. (Mohammed Zaanoun / Activestills.org)

Even before the march began Israeli security forces launched a public campaign painting the ‘Great Return March’ as a violent, Hamas-sponsored event. The Israeli army’s chief of staff announced the deployment of 100 snipers and several infantry brigades to the area of the Gaza border fence. Israeli generals warned ahead of time that there will be Palestinian casualties.

The Israeli army threatened bus company owners and their families against transporting protesters to the border. “From my point of view,” COGAT Gen. Yoav Mordechai told Al-Hura TV, “if bus companies you own take some of the protesters and bring them to the border, you and your families will be held personally responsible.”

Palestinian families take part in the festivities at the start of the ‘Great Return March.’ March 30, 2017. (Mohammed Zaanoun / Activestills.org)
Palestinian families take part in the festivities at the start of the ‘Great Return March.’ March 30, 2017. (Mohammed Zaanoun / Activestills.org)

 

Palestinian men tend to a wounded protester during the Great Return March in Gaza, east of Jabaliya. March 30, 2018. (Mohammed Zaanoun / Activestills.org)
Palestinian men tend to a wounded protester during the Great Return March in Gaza, east of Jabaliya. March 30, 2018. (Mohammed Zaanoun / Activestills.org)

 

Palestinians rally at tents hundreds of meters from the boarder fence, east of Jabaliya, in Gaza, during the beginning of the Great Return March. March 30, 2018. (Mohammed Zaanoun / Activestills.org)
Palestinians rally at tents hundreds of meters from the boarder fence, east of Jabaliya, in Gaza, during the beginning of the Great Return March. March 30, 2018. (Mohammed Zaanoun / Activestills.org)

 

Tens of thousands of Palestinians gathered at several points along the Gaza-Israel border as part of the first day of the Great Return March, March 30, 2018. (+972 Magazine)
Tens of thousands of Palestinians gathered at several points along the Gaza-Israel border as part of the first day of the Great Return March, March 30, 2018. (+972 Magazine)

Friday’s march in Gaza also coincided with the anniversary of Land Day, which itself commemorates how in 1976 Israeli security forces responded to a general strike and mass protest of Palestinian citizens of Israel by killing six and wounding some 100 others.

On Land Day and Nakba Day in 2011, thousands of Palestinians from Lebanon, Syria, the West Bank and Gaza, and inside Israel marched on the country’s borders. On the Lebanese, Syrian, and Gaza borders, the army responded with gunfire, killing dozens and wounding hundreds.

Palestinian youth approach the border fence as Israeli snipers look on from a mound of dirt on the other side, east of Shajaia, Gaza, during the start of the ‘Great Return March.’ March 30, 2017. (+972 Magazine)
Palestinian youth approach the border fence as Israeli snipers look on from a mound of dirt on the other side, east of Shajaia, Gaza, during the start of the ‘Great Return March.’ March 30, 2017. (+972 Magazine)

 

A Palestinian protester uses a sling shot to throw stones in the direction of the border fence during the Great Return March, east of Shajaia. March 30, 2018. (+972 Magazine)
A Palestinian protester uses a sling shot to throw stones in the direction of the border fence during the Great Return March, east of Shajaia. March 30, 2018. (+972 Magazine)

 

An Israeli soldier sets up what appears to be a mobile command post or sniper position on the Israeli side of the Gaza border fence. March 30, 2018. (Oren Ziv / Activestills.org)
An Israeli soldier sets up what appears to be a mobile command post or sniper position on the Israeli side of the Gaza border fence. March 30, 2018. (Oren Ziv / Activestills.org)

 

An Israeli army drone drops tear gas canisters onto Palestinians gathered at the Great March of Return, east of Shujaiyeh, March 30, 2018. (+972 Magazine)
An Israeli army drone drops tear gas canisters onto Palestinians gathered at the Great March of Return, east of Shujaiyeh, March 30, 2018. (+972 Magazine)

 

Tens of thousands of Palestinians protest to mark the start of the Great Return March, seen from the Israeli side of the border. March 30, 2018. (Oren Ziv / Activestills.)
Tens of thousands of Palestinians protest to mark the start of the Great Return March, seen from the Israeli side of the border. March 30, 2018. (Oren Ziv / Activestills.)

 

Israeli forces fire tear gas and live ammunition at Palestinian protesters near the Gaza border fence during the start of the Great Return March, seen from the Israeli side of the border. March 30, 2018. (Oren Ziv / Activestills.org)
Israeli forces fire tear gas and live ammunition at Palestinian protesters near the Gaza border fence during the start of the Great Return March, seen from the Israeli side of the border. March 30, 2018. (Oren Ziv / Activestills.org)