Israel intentionally targeted Palestinian protesters near the Gaza-Israel security fence last week, Pierre Krahenbuhl, head of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), said Tuesday.
Speaking at a press conference in Gaza City, Krahenbuhl described the nature of injuries sustained by Palestinian protesters as “shocking”.
Krahenbuhl said the Israeli army had deliberately targeted protesters’ lower limbs, knees, backs and heads.
He added that the number of protesters injured since Palestinians began holding rallies near the Gaza-Israel fence on Mar. 30 now exceeded the number of those injured during Israel’s destructive 2014 military onslaught on the coastal enclave.
Israel’s 2014 offensive left more than 2,250 Palestinians dead and thousands more injured — mostly civilians — while leaving much of Gaza’s infrastructure in ruins.
Of the 13,000 Palestinians injured since the Gaza rallies began on Mar. 30, Krahenbuhl said, roughly 3,500 had been struck by live ammunition.
According to the UNRWA chief, the large number of casualties — and the severe nature of many injuries — had pushed Gaza’s health sector to the brink of collapse.
On May 14, at least 65 unarmed Palestinian demonstrators in Gaza were martyred — and thousands more injured — by intense Israeli army gunfire.
The protests had coincided with the 70th anniversary of Israel's establishment in 1948 — an event Palestinians refer to as the "The Catastrophe" — and the relocation of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, which took place the same day.