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Gaza killings: A tragic inevitability

05 April 2018

How long until next time? A year? A month? A day?

Eighteen people were killed in Gaza last Friday. A further 1,000 were injured, including 250 women and children.

For people living in Gaza, the question is not if tragic events like this will happen again, but rather when will they happen.

Gaza is a humanitarian crisis zone. Almost two million people are living in a cage 41km long and 6-12km wide. Almost half are unemployed and 80 per cent need aid for survival.

Basic services – water, sanitation, education, healthcare – are crumbling at the seams.

Young people see no future. There are no jobs, there are no opportunities. They are trapped.

Gaza is utterly unsustainable.

The remains of a building partially destroyed in Gaza in 2014 (Photo: John McColgan)

The scenes of last Friday were shocking. Unarmed civilians were gunned down merely for coming within 300 metres of the border.

Soldiers fired live ammunition into a territory they do not govern, killing unarmed demonstrators who were posing no threat to them. The UN has called for an independent investigation into the killings. Trócaire fully supports that call.

Israeli human rights organisations have condemned the killings. B’Tselem described the killings as “manifestly illegal”. Gisha highlighted the excessive response of the Israeli military.

Gisha went on to address the underlying causes of the protest that led to the killings:

“For more than 10 years, residents of Gaza have lived under excessively harsh restrictions on movement, made possible by Israel’s closure of the Strip’s land, sea and air space. A daily reality unbearable by any reasonable standards has been compounded by the impact of three devastating military operations and left little hope to Gaza’s overwhelmingly young population.”

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights warned: "the Gaza Strip is on the verge of collapse [as] a direct result of the occupation and closure, which has paralyzed all productive sectors and infrastructure."

As long as such a situation is allowed to continue, it is inevitable that Gaza and Israel will be locked into an endless cycle of protest, violence and death.

There is an urgent need for a long-term solution that will allow all people in the region to live in peace and security.

Until that happens, the shocking scenes witnessed last Friday will be replayed time and time again.

How many more must die?