The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Thursday it was sending two surgical teams to Gaza and setting up a surgical unit in the enclave’s main hospital to treat heavy casualties from clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinians.
“This infusion of medical expertise and material will expedite the long road to recovery and relieve a stressed and overburdened health care system,” said Robert Mardini, ICRC’s director for the Near and Middle East,
Mardini said that 13,000 people had been wounded since protests began on March 30.
17 Palestinian demonstrators were killed, while more than 1,400 were injured, in the Gaza Strip on the Gaza-Israel border during the “Great March of Return”.
Around thirty thousand Palestinians were attending the Great March of Return, calling for the right of return for Palestinian refugees to towns and villages their families had fled or were expelled from during the war following the 1948 establishment of the state of Israel.
The demonstration also marked the 42th anniversary of “Land Day”, which commemorates the death of six Palestinians killed by the Israeli forces in 1976, during general strikes and marches against the Israeli government’s expropriation of Palestinian-owned land in the Galilee.
The violence broke out after around thirty thousand Palestinians, including women and children, gathered in five different points along the fenced border of the Gaza Strip, about 700 metres away from the fence.
Although the March and protest organisers had allegedly urged demonstrators to stay away from the border area, gradually hundreds of young people moved closer to the border.
According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, Palestinian casualties were caused by the Israeli forces firing live and rubber-coated bullets and tear gas canisters at protesters.
As stated by the Israeli military, Palestinians rolled burning tires and threw stones at the Israeli forces, who responded with live bullets and tear gas.
The Israeli Army blamed some Palestinians protesters trying to damage and break through the security fence for the incidents on Friday and claims that Hamas intended to use Friday’s protests as a ploy to attack Israel.
The events have resulted in heightened tension along the Gaza-Israeli border, with the UN Security Council calling for an emergency meeting to discuss the deadly clashes in Gaza.