For the 21st consecutive Friday since March 30 this year, thousands of Palestinians in Gaza demonstrated on August 17 along the border of the besieged enclave, with Israeli forces fatally shooting two Palestinians: Karim Abu Fatayir, 30, east of al-Bureij refugee camp and Saadi Akram Muammar, 26, east of Rafah. The Gaza health ministry announced that at least another 270 Palestinians were injured during Friday’s demonstrations, no less than 40 of them having been wounded by live fire, 18 of them minors.
On Friday, in New York, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres issued a report outlining four options aimed at boosting the protection of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, from sending UN rights monitors and unarmed observers to deploying a military or police force under UN mandate. Specifically, the proposed options include:
- Providing a “more robust UN presence on the ground” with rights monitors and political officers to report on the situation.
- Pouring in more UN humanitarian and development aid to “ensure the well-being of the population.”
- Creating a civilian observer mission that would be present in sensitive areas such as checkpoints and near Israeli settlements, with a mandate to report on protection issues.
- Deploying an armed military or police force, under a UN mandate, to provide physical protection to Palestinian civilians.
The proposals were contained in a report requested in June by the General Assembly in response to a surge of violence in Gaza, where 173 Palestinians have been killed during clashes with Israeli troops since late March and more than 15,000 thousands have been wounded or injured during the “Great March of Return” by residents of the besieged Gaza Strip. The strip, which is home to nearly 2 million Palestinians, two thirds of them refugees and half of them minors, has been blockaded by Israel for the past 11 years during which time Israel has launched three large scale military operations that resulted in the deaths of nearly four thousand Palestinians, largely civilians, the wounding of tens of thousands more, and the devastation of the area’s economy and infrastructure.
A UN mandate for a protection force would require a decision from the Security Council, where the United States could use its veto power to block a measure opposed by Israel.
Late on Friday, Israel’s UN Ambassador Danny Danon rejected the UN report issued by Secretary-General Guterres, saying in a statement that “the only protection the Palestinian people need is from their own leadership.”