While the IDF and Israeli government have suffered few — if any — consequences for their excessive use of force against Gazan demonstrators, the Great Return March and the Israeli response has caused a notable shift in favor of Palestinian rights at the international level.
'GAZA CITY — During a non-violent commemoration of the beginning of the Great Return March and Palestine’s Land Day, Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) snipers killed four people in Gaza, three of them minors, and shot six journalists and three medical volunteers — all of whom were clearly marked in press or medical-team vests. In addition to the four fatalities, an estimated 244 Palestinians were injured, including 56 children and 15 women, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry. The Great Return March began last year on Land Day and has been mainly focused on protesting the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip as well as the right of return for Palestinians in exile.
Notably, the carnage occurred despite an unprecedented effort by Gazans as well as Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip, to keep all demonstrators hundreds of meters from the border fence and prevent any behavior that could be considered violent or threatening to Israeli forces. Indeed, even the New York Times noted as much, writing that “Hamas … deployed scores of people in orange vests to keep most demonstrators at least 300 yards from the fence, the distance Israel had demanded as a buffer.”
Despite claims from the IDF’s Arabic-language spokesman that peaceful protests would be rewarded, Israeli forces used live ammunition with little restraint, hence the large number of casualties. No IDF personnel were killed or injured during Saturday’s demonstration.'
Read more: Israel Praises Nonviolence of Great Return March Anniversary Protest in Gaza, Shoots Demonstrators Anyway