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As One Million People Face Hunger in Besieged Gaza, Israel Shoots 16 Palestinians at Nakba Day Protests

"It is a race against time."

Palestinians on the border between Gaza and Israel helping a wounded protester flee Israeli military forces.

Palestinians on the border between Gaza and Israel helping a wounded protester flee Israeli military forces. (Photo: Times of Gaza, Twitter)

Israeli forces opened fire Wednesday on Palestinians protesting the 71st anniversary of the Nakba and their decades long life under the boot of a merciless occupation, which is slowly starving the Gaza Strip's population with the explicit backing of the U.S. government.

The Nakba, or "disaster," is the Palestinian name for the remembrance of the 1948 forced removal of Palestinians from the newly created state of Israel, which marked the beginning of the occupation and subjugation of the Palestinian people that has continued for seven decades.

On Wednesday, members of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) shot 16 people at the Gaza border after thousands of Palestinians assembled there to protest the decades-long conflict. In total, 65 people were wounded by various projectiles, shrapnel, and military rounds fired by the IDF, the Gaza health ministry told The Guardian.

Though Wednesday's protest was more muted than last year's—due to an unofficial deal between Gaza's governing party Hamas and Israel intended to keep casualties down—the violence toward Palestinians using protest as a path to resistance against the occupation has been ongoing.

A year ago Israeli snipers killed 60 people in a day at the Gaza frontier as thousands came out to protest against the opening of the US embassy in disputed Jerusalem, part of which Palestinians claim. Per The Guardian:

Since then, Israeli forces' bullets have killed more than 200 people and wounded 7,000. A UN inquiry found Israel’s actions may amount to war crimes, as snipers had "shot at journalists, health workers, children and persons with disabilities knowing they were clearly recognizable."

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The attacks on Wednesday came on the same day the U.N. reported that the effects of the U.S. cutting aid to Palestine will result in 1 million people facing severe hunger in the next month. That's unless remaining donor countries provide the occupied territories with $60 million. 

"We are in a critical situation in terms of our food delivery work," Matthias Schmale, director of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees operation in Gaza told The Guardian. "We have over a million people receiving quarterly food handouts and many of these people would not really survive without that every quarter."

Food shortages are only the latest assault on the rights of the people in the Gaza Strip. Over the past decade, the situation in the small strip of land has become more and more dire, as Israel has cut off access to fishing and, with Egypt, put a hard stop on Palestinians crossing the border. 

That's leading to a situation, Schmale said, where Palestinian children are growing up trapped in the narrow strip of land, having never met an Israeli, and connected to the outside world only through the internet—increasing the potential for extremism.

"It is a race against time," said Schmale.

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