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  • A left-wing activist takes part in a protest in solidarity with Palestinians living in Gaza, next to the Gaza-Israel border.

    A left-wing activist takes part in a protest in solidarity with Palestinians living in Gaza, next to the Gaza-Israel border. | Photo: Reuters

Published 31 March 2018

Sixteen peaceful protesters were killed by the Israeli occupation forces on Land Day, according to medics.

The head of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas has called for a Day of National Mourning in honor of the Palestinians killed by Israeli occupation forces on the first day of Land Day protests in Gaza.

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"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," a statement said Friday. 

Families and friends have buried those killed by Israeli sniper fire during the protest. 

Hundreds more have also had to seek medical treatment after the Israeli forces violently cracked down on protesters. Palestine's Health Ministry reported over 1,400 injuries across the Gaza Strip, due to the actions of the Israeli troops, who used live ammunition and tear gas to disperse crowds of people, who were approaching the “no-go zone” along the border.

The series of funeral services began with the burial of 30-year-old Sari Abu Odeh Friday evening.

According to Al Jazeera, other victims include Mohammed Najjar (25), Mahmoud Muammar (38), Mohammed Abu Omar (22), Ahmed Odeh (19), Jihad Freneh (33), Mahmoud Saadi Rahmi (33), Abdelfattah Abdelnabi (22), Ibrahim Abu Shaar (20), Abdelqader al-Hawajiri, Sari Abu Odeh, Hamdan Abu Amsheh, Jihad Abu Jamous, Bader al-Sabbagh and Naji Abu Hjair.

Another man, Omar Waheed Abu Samour, was killed while working on his land near Khan Younis, hours before the demonstrations started according to reports. 

Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) have said they would double the security forces presence on the Gazan border to safeguard the no-go zone.

Palestinians attend a tent city protest along the Israel border with Gaza, demanding the right to return to their homeland, east of Gaza City March 30, 2018. Photo | Reuters

Israel's Foreign Ministry has called the protests a "deliberate attempt to provoke a confrontation with Israel," ignoring the rights of Gazans to stage demonstrations against what they view as an illegal occupation and continuous harassment of Indigenous people.

Gazans have organized a series of peaceful protests along the border with Israel marking Land Day, a commemoration day remembering the murder of six unarmed Palestinians by Israeli forces during the 1976 strikes to prevent the seizing of land for illegal settlements.

The protests will last six weeks and will end on the Nakba commemoration on May 15, a day after the anniversary of Israel's official declaration of Independence, remembered by Palestinians as the day in which they were expelled from their land by an invading army.

Even though the protests were organized by independent Palestinian activists, the ruling Hamas and other political organizations supported the move and called for people to attend the peaceful demonstrations.

The United States will open its new embassy in Jerusalem on May 14 to commemorate's “Israel's 70th anniversary.”

 


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