Around 80 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip during the month of May.
More than 150 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces and armed civilians so far this year. Six Israelis were killed by Palestinians during the same period.
Oday Akram Muhammad Abu Khalil, 15, died on 23 May, eight days after being shot in the stomach during protests marking the annual Nakba Day commemoration.
Abu Khalil was the sole Palestinian fatality in the West Bank during May; except for a Palestinian who died after he was severely beaten by Israeli prison guards, the rest occured in Gaza, where Israel massacred Palestinians participating in Great March of Return protests to end the siege on Gaza and to exercise their right to return to the homeland from which they were expelled in 1948.
More than 60 were fatally wounded on 14 May during massive protests against the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem that day, the 70th anniversary of the declaration of the State of Israel on the majority of historic Palestine. It marked the highest number of Palestinian fatalities in a single day since Israel’s 2014 war on Gaza.
Israel has killed more than 120 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip since the beginning of the Great March of Return protests on 30 March. More than 100 of those killed were civilians, according to the rights group Al-Haq, and 14 were children.
Six fighters with the Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, were killed in an explosion in central Gaza on 5 May. The Qassam Brigades said the blast occurred while its fighters were tracking an Israeli spy system.
One Israeli, a soldier in the military’s elite Duvdevan unit, was killed during the month when a marble slab was dropped on his head during a raid in al-Amari refugee camp near the West Bank city of Ramallah.
Israeli defense minister Avigdor Lieberman vowed to “reach those who threw stones at the soldier, and find them dead or alive.”
A 58-year-old Palestinian man with a heart condition died in a West Bank hospital after being injured by tear gas inhalation during Nakba Day protests. A baby in Gaza with a heart defect also died after being exposed to tear gas on 14 May.
“Unprecedented” health crisis
At the close of the month the Red Cross warned that Gaza was facing a health crisis of “unprecedented magnitude” after Israel’s crackdown on the Great March of Return protests left more than 13,000 Palestinians injured.
More than 3,600 Palestinians were wounded by live fire – some multiple times. Around “1,350 people have complex injuries and will require between three and five surgeries each,” Agence France Presse reported, citing Robert Mardini of the Red Cross. “This epic health crisis took place against the backdrop of multiple, protracted, chronic crises affecting all sectors of life in Gaza,” Mardini said.
Egypt announced that during the month of Ramadan, it would continuously open Rafah crossing, the sole point of exit and entry for the vast majority of Gaza’s two million residents.
Since 12 May, Rafah as been open for the longest continuous period since 2014, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
Yarmouk in ruins
Meanwhile during the month of May the Syrian military announced that it had taken full control of Yarmouk refugee camp after a month-long operation aimed at routing armed insurgents from southern Damascus.
“Yarmouk was once the thriving home of 160,000 Palestinians. Today it lies in ruins, with hardly a house untouched by the conflict,” Chris Gunness, spokesperson for UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestine refugees, told Agence France Presse.
Thirty-two Palestinians were recorded to have died as a result of the ongoing war in Syria during the month of May.
Two youths were reported to have been shot and killed as pro-government forces looted homes in Yarmouk following the military’s takeover of the camp.
A family of five were killed during fierce fighting ahead of the government’s takeover of the camp, as were several other civilians.
The bodies of civilians remained unrecovered and unburied at the close of the month, sources in Yarmouk stated.