Laila Anwar al-Ghandour becomes the face of Gaza carnage

Protests mark 70th anniversary of Nakba as Palestinians take part in burials following Monday's killings in Gaza.

    Laila is the youngest fatality of the deadly demonstrations in Gaza on Monday [Reuters]
    Laila is the youngest fatality of the deadly demonstrations in Gaza on Monday [Reuters]
    Correction, May 16, 2018: A photo accompanying one of the tweets, originally embedded in this story, was labeled as an image of Fadi Abu Salah. That was incorrect. The person in the photo was identified by AFP news agency as Saber al-Ashqar, a double-amputee, sitting in a wheelchair and holding a slingshot. The photo was taken during a separate Gaza protest on May 11. Abu Salah is also a double amputee. He was killed during the Gaza protest on Monday, May 14.

    Laila Anwar al-Ghandour, an eight-month-old baby girl, died of tear-gas inhalation at dawn, Gaza's Ministry of Health says, highlighting international outrage over the killings by Israeli soldiers of 60 Palestinians who joined in a massive protest against the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem.

    Laila was the youngest fatality of the demonstrations on Monday, which were held in the run up to the 70th anniversary on Tuesday of the Nakba, or Catastrophe, the day the state of Israel was established on May 15, 1948, forcing hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homes.

    According to the Palestine Network for Dialogue, Laila and the al-Ghandour family are residents of the al-Shati district, also known as Beach Camp, in western Gaza.

    On Tuesday, the activist group posted images of the al-Ghandour family bidding farewell to Laila.

    At least eight Palestinians under the age of 18 were among the dead in the protest on Monday.

    On Tuesday, Talal Adel, a 16-year-old, died after sustaining severe injuries on Monday.

    The Israeli military has imposed a land, sea and air blockade on the Gaza Strip for more than a decade, cutting the Palestinian territory off from the outside world and leaving many of its residents impoverished, including the al-Ghandour family.

    For the past seven weeks, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have been protesting as part of a campaign demanding the right of return for Palestinian refugees to the areas they were forcibly expelled from in 1948.

    Since the protests began on March 30, Israeli forces have killed at least 108 Palestinians in the coastal enclave and wounded about 12,000 people.

    The bloodshed in Gaza contrasted with the events in Jerusalem on Monday, as US President Donald Trump's daughter, Ivanka, and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, joined Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in inaugurating the US embassy.

    Images broadcast on television and splashed all over the internet and social media underlined the sharp visual disparity of the two news events.

    Another image that has been widely circulating on social media showed a double-amputee, sitting in a wheelchair and holding a slingshot.

    But the person in the photo was incorrectly identified as Fadi Abu Salah, who was killed during the protest on Monday.

    The person in the AFP news agency photo has been identified as Saber al-Ashqar, not Abu Salah, who is also a double-amputee. That photo was taken on May 11 at a separate protest in Gaza.    

    Abu Salah was killed by Israeli snipers east of Khan Younis on Monday.

    Images posted on Twitter showed hundreds of people attending Abu Salah's funeral on Tuesday. 

    Monday was the deadliest day for Palestinians since the Israeli war on Gaza in 2014, a 50-day assault that saw at least 2,251 Palestinians killed. Most of the fatalities were civilians, including 551 children. At least 73 Israelis were also killed, 67 of whom were soldiers.

    At least 2,771 protesters were reported injured as of Tuesday, according to Gaza's Ministry of Health.  

    Also on Tuesday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called on residents across the occupied West Bank to hold a general strike in honour of those killed in Gaza.

    Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan led international condemnation of the deaths, accusing Israel of "state terror" and "genocide", according to state-run Anadolu news agency. 

    Erdogan has declared three days of national mourning in honour of those who were killed.

    In the US, Bernie Sanders, former Democratic presidential candidate and senator from Vermont, urged Washington to bring the adversaries together "to address Gaza's humanitarian crisis and stop this escalating violence".

    Jeremy Corbyn, Britain's opposition leader and head of the Labour Party, also joined in the condemnation of the violence in Gaza, saying: "We cannot turn a blind eye to such wanton disregard for international law".

    In a post on social media, Corbyn wrote that his party is committed to reviewing the UK's arms sales to Israel "while these violations continue".

    "The international community must at last put its collective authority and weight behind achieving a lasting settlement that delivers peace, justice and security for both Israelis and Palestinians, who have waited so long to achieve their rights."

    In response, the Trump administration said Hamas, the Palestinian group governing the Gaza Strip, was to blame for the violence.

    In a social media post, Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, said that "by blaming solely Hamas for the Gaza border killings, Trump gives the Israeli snipers a green light to keep killing".

    Zeid Ra'ad al Hussein, the high commissioner of the UN human rights office, said that international law on the use of force appeared "to be ignored again and again".

    "It seems anyone is liable to be shot dead or injured: women, children, press, first responders, bystanders, and at almost any point up to 700m from the fence."

    Inside Gaza, residents and activists have also made their collective voice heard on social media against the Israeli occupation and the latest violence.

    As the protest raged on Monday, Mohammed Said Nashwan, a Gaza-based social activist, wrote in Arabic that Jerusalem is "the eternal capital of Palestine, and always will be".

    "I swear the bloodshed will not be in vain."

    His post on Twitter was retweeted at least 1,400 times.

    On Tuesday, the UK government called for an independent investigation into the deadly Gaza protest.

    Philip Luther, of the human rights group Amnesty International, said in a statement on Tuesday that the killings of Palestinian protesters were "a violation of international standards, in some instances committing what appear to be wilful killings constituting war crimes".

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera News


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