As 3,000 Palestinians gathered in a peaceful protest against the year-long Israeli siege on Gaza, Israeli forces opened fire with live ammunition into the crowd, injuring six civilians, two of them critically. According to an Israeli military spokesperson, the Army shot at the crowd to “make the rioters back off”, and to prevent them from getting too close to the border with Israel, adding that the Army will “operate with all its strength to prevent the demonstrators from approaching the security fence or the crossing … and from entering the state of Israel”.
Hamas spokesman Hammad Ar-Reqel said that the demonstration was completely peaceful, and the Israeli soldiers had no reason to open fire. He stated, “"If Israel doesn't respond to our messages, then it can expect more. But we won't wait until more Palestinians die”.
The protest was just one of many peaceful demonstrations that have been held in recent months, as Palestinians in Gaza remain imprisoned by Israeli forces, unable to leave, and without any imports or exports, food aid, medicine, gasoline or other necessities. Israel, with the support of the US and the EU, have imposed a siege-style warfare on the civilian residents of the Gaza Strip since the Hamas government was elected by the Palestinian people and took power in Gaza last year.