At least 17 Palestinians have been killed and more than 1,400 have been injured after Israeli soldiers attacked protestors marching near the Gaza border on Friday in a demonstration against illegal-occupation.
Tens of thousands marched in the mass protest on the 42nd anniversary of Land Day, which commemorates the murder of six unarmed Palestinian civilians who were killed by Israelis during protests back in 1976. The six murdered protestors were demonstrating against an Israeli government decision to expropriate massive tracts of Palestinian-owned land.
As tens of thousands marched to commemorate the victims and their ideals, Israel responded with violence, killing and injuring more Palestinians.
Even snipers were used to target protestors
CNN reported seeing dozens of protestors rushed away by ambulances after being shot by Israeli forces. Although some protestors threw rocks at soldiers, the Israelis responded with live rounds, rubber bullets, tear gas and sniper fire.
"The Israeli military’s use of 100 snipers against unarmed Palestinian civilian protesters in the Gaza Strip is illegal. Live gunfire on unarmed civilians constitutes a brutal violation of the international legal obligation to distinguish between civilians and combatants," Adalah, a legal center for Palestinian rights in Israel, said in a statement, condemning the violence.
The organization also said that it plans to investigate and "demand that those found responsible for the killings be brought to justice."
In response, the Palestinian Authority declared a national day of mourning.
"Schools, universities as well as all government institutions across the country will be off on Saturday, as per President Mahmoud Abbas' decision to declare a day of national mourning for the souls of the martyrs," the PA said in a statement, according to Al Jazeera.
Israel used "excessive force" against peaceful protestors
Responding to the Israeli aggression, a spokesperson for the Jordanian government said the attack was a violation of Palestinians' right to protest peacefully.
"As an occupying power, Israel bears responsibility for what happened in Gaza today, as a result of the Israeli violation of the Palestinian right to protest peacefully and the use of excessive force against them," Mohammad al-Momani, the spokesperson, said.
Qatar, Russia and Turkey also issued similar statements.
Despite the tragic deaths and the many injured, Palestinians do not plan to back down. Mass demonstrations will continue for six weeks until May 15, in what activists are calling "The Great March of Return."
The activists launched the protests on Land Day and plan for them to conclude on the 70th anniversary of the Nakba (or catastrophe). This day commemorates the more than 700,000 Palestinians who were expelled from their lands by Israeli forces back in 1948.