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From the field

‘Adel al-Breim, 20, recounts the shooting of live ammunition at Palestinian protesters near the Gaza perimeter fence, north of Khuza’ah, 30 March 2018

‘Adel al-Breim. Photo by Khaled al-‘Azayzeh, B'Tselem, 2 April 2018

I woke up at around 8:00 o’clock on Friday morning, 30 March 2018, and made up with friends that we’d go together to the Return March planned to take place north of Khuza’ah.

We met at ‘Abasan at 10:00 and walked towards Khuza’ah. It’s a long walk, and on the way we saw a lot of people heading in the same direction, on foot or by car, motorbike or tuk-tuk (three-wheeler). I saw women and children, elderly people and youngsters, all coming to join the march. When we got to Khuza’ah, we went to the northern part of the a-Najar neighborhood. There were tents pitched there and earth mounds around them, about 350-400 meters from the fence with Israel. Until midday prayers, masses of people kept streaming in. There were no clashes. We prayed near the tents and then my friends and I headed towards the fence to demonstrate. Some people stayed by the tents and watched from there.

We went towards the fence with about ninety other people. Some stayed about 200 meters from the fence and we got closer, about 100 meters from it. I wound a Palestinian flag around my head. I saw a lot of soldiers on the other side of the fence: There were about eight mounds of earth there, a few meters apart from each other, and behind each one were about ten soldiers. Immediately after the prayers, the soldiers started sniping at the demonstrators, firing live ammunition. They also fired teargas canisters at the demonstrators. I choked on the gas twice. Each time, I fell over and was blinded by tears. I really felt like I was suffocating, and each time it took me about ten minutes to get back on my feet. But I got back up and continued demonstrating. The guys threw stones but the stones didn’t hit the soldiers, because we were far away from them. Every time the soldiers opened live fire, people were hit, mostly in the legs. That day, from midday prayers until the muezzin recited the call for evening prayers, I saw about 80 people hit by sniper fire – all of them about 100 meters from the border.

The clashes continued until the muezzin recited the call for evening prayers, and then I left because I found out that my brother Muhammad, 19, had been hit in the chest by live fire. He had been in the same area as me but further back, so I hadn’t seen him. I went immediately to the European Hospital to find out how he’s doing. He was in critical condition and underwent chest and abdominal surgery. He is still in hospital and we don’t know when he’ll get out. I’m there with him a lot.

‘Adel Ashraf Ahmad al-Breim, 20, is a married father of one from ‘Abasan al-Kabirah east of Khan Yunis. He gave his testimony to B’Tselem field researcher Khaled al-‘Azayzeh at the European Hospital, which is south of Khan Yunis, on 2 April 2018.

Demonstration near the Gaza perimeter fence in Khuza'a, 9 April 2018. Photo by Khaled al-'Azayzeh, B'Tselem