Protesters chant slogans while waving their national flags as others burn tires near the fence of the Gaza Strip border with Israel during a protest east of Gaza City, Oct. 26, 2018.
Protesters chant slogans while waving their national flags as others burn tires near the fence of the Gaza Strip border with Israel during a protest east of Gaza City, Oct. 26, 2018.

Palestinian health authorities say at least four people were killed and dozens were wounded by Israeli forces Friday in protests along the border.

The Israeli army said it aimed airstrikes at three positions belonging to Hamas, the militant group that has political control of the Palestinian territory.

Israel said thousands of Palestinians gathered along the Gaza border Friday to throw firebombs and rocks at Israeli troops. Such protests have been taking place since March 30 as Palestinians demand an end to the Israeli blockade of the territory.

On Thursday, the U.N. special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories told a committee of the General Assembly that Gaza had become “unlivable” as a result of the blockade.

The rapporteur, Michael Lynk, said the youth unemployment rate was 70 percent, the heath care system had collapsed and much of the drinking water supply was contaminated. 

United Nations Special Rapporteur on Palestine, Mi
U.N. Special Rapporteur on Palestine Michael Lynk delivers a video message on May 18, 2018, in Geneva, during a special session of the U.N. Human Rights Council.

In addition, he said, about 200 Palestinians, including 40 children, have been killed by Israel’s security forces during the Friday protests. 

Lynk said it was time for the international community to take action to stop Israel’s annexation of territory in the West Bank.

“During five decades of the occupation,” Lynk said, “Israel has steadily entrenched its sovereign footprint throughout the West Bank” through settlement and expansion. 

“The strict prohibition against annexation in international law applies not only to a formal declaration, but also to those acts of territorial appropriation by Israel that have been a cumulative part of its efforts to stake a future claim of formal sovereignty over the occupied Palestinian territory,” he added.

Lynk urged the international community to take “meaningful steps ... to insist upon accountability.”

Israel has held a blockade against Gaza for more than a decade. It says the blockade is necessary to isolate Hamas. 

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