gaza - great march of return

The so-called Great March of Return demonstrations (GMR) began on 30 March 2018 to demand the end of the Israeli blockade and the right of return for refugees. While protests have continued to be largely non-violent and the vast majority of those in attendance are unarmed, there are often reported incidents of stone throwing, as well as tire burning, attempts to damage the fence and, since April, some demonstrators flew kites or balloons towards Israel that carried burning rags and damaged Israeli property, including agricultural land. Israeli Security Forces (ISF) have responded to these civilian demonstrations with the use of tear gas, rubber-coated bullets and live ammunition. Among the casualties of the first year are 227 UNRWA students who were injured and 13 who were killed.  Through the provision of life-saving medical care in its 22 health centres and through psychosocial counselling in our health centres and schools, UNRWA supports patients recovering from injuries sustained during the demonstrations.  However, this toll of death and injury places further stress on an already traumatized population; the effects of the GMR will be felt by Palestine refugees and others in Gaza for years to come. Read the UNRWA report on the impact on Palestine refugees and UNRWA services: “Gaza’s Great March of Return”, One Year On.



Great March of Return: Scores of People
Killed and Injured Over One Year

One year after the start in Gaza of demonstrations that became known as The Great March of Return (GMR) ... more


Palestine refugees make up two-thirds of the population of Gaza of nearly 2 million
people ... more


Great March of Return: Scores of People
Killed and Injured infographic

The ISF’s response to the GMR has resulted in the largest number of injured persons since the hostilities in Gaza in of 2014 ...




Experience the story of a young Palestine refugee whose life was changed forever from injuries sustained during his participation in the demonstrations through the testimony of his mother.




Glimpse the impact that the ubiquity of injury and death in Gaza is having on young pupils in an UNRWA classroom from the perspective of their teacher.

The ISF’s response to the GMR has resulted in the largest number of injured persons since the hostilities in Gaza in the summer of 2014 and it has led to the near collapse of the health system. While UNRWA has not been able to record how many Palestine refugees have been killed and injured during the demonstrations, it has documented the death of 13 students from UNRWA schools and has treated 2729 patients for GMR-related injuries at its health centres. The GMR has  taken a particular toll on children. Twenty per cent (533) of persons treated for GMR-related injuries have been children below the age of 18 years of age, the vast majority of them boys (95 per cent). Eighty per cent of all children treated by UNRWA were injured with gunshot wounds. This is the same proportion of adults injured by gunshot wounds, which underlines that children have in no way been spared from the most dangerous and harmful types of violence at the demonstrations.

Lethal force was used by ISF against children who posed no imminent threat to soldiers and in several instances it was likely that Israeli snipers shot at children intentionally.”

 Findings from the UN Human Rights Council mandated Commission of Inquiry, Resolution S-28/1


Gaza on the Brink of Collapse