On Friday afternoon, 08 December 2017, in excessive use of force, Israeli forces killed 4 Palestinians, including 2 civilians, and wounded 259 others, including 32 children and 4 women, in the Gaza Strip and West Bank in protests and airstrikes carried out by Israeli warplanes. This escalation occurred following the American President Donald Trump’s declaration that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, and the American Embassy will be moved to it, constituting a dangerous precedent and violating the international law.
This huge number of victims indicate that Israeli force continue to commit crimes and use excessive force against Palestinian civilians in disregard for their lives. The follow-up by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR’s) fieldworkers showed that most of the injuries in the eastern Gaza Strip were in the lower limbs in addition to the abdomen and back and also being directly hit with tear gas canisters. The Israeli forces also obstructed the medical crews’ work by targeting two ambulances in Khan Younis with rubber-coated metal bullets and tear gas canisters.
According to PCHR’s investigations, at approximately 13:00 on Friday, 08 December 2017, dozens of young men and youngsters gathered 10 meters away from the border fence with Israel, east of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip. They set fire to tires and threw stones at the Israeli forces stationed along the border fence. Some of the protesters approached the fence and fixed Palestinian flags on it. During hours of clashes, the Israeli forces sporadically fired tear gas canisters and live and rubber-coated metal bullets at the protesters. As a result, Mahmoud ‘Abdul Majeed al-Masri (29) was killed after an hour of being wounded with a bullet to the right thigh in ‘Abasan al-Kabirah village, east of Khan Younis. He was then taken to the Gaza European Hospital, where he succumbed to his wounds and severe bleeding.
In the same time, the eastern outskirts of the Gaza Strip witnessed similar protests, during which Israeli forces opened fire and fired tear gas canisters. As a result, 141 Palestinians, including 20 children, were wounded with live and rubber-coated metal bullets and tear gas canisters. Moreover, dozens suffered tear gas inhalation. The clashes and their results were as follows in each governorate:
In the northern Gaza Strip: the incidents were mainly in the vicinity of al-Shuhadaa’ Cemetery, east of Jabalia and in the vicinity of Beit Hanoun Crossing. As a result, 62 Palestinians, including 11 children, were wounded; 3 of them sustained serious wounds. Twenty-two of the wounded persons were hit with live bullets; 2 were hit with rubber-coated metal bullets; 38 were hit with tear gas canisters.
In Gaza City: the clashes were mainly near former Nahal Oz Crossing, east of al-Shuja’iyah neighborhood. As a result, 31 Palestinians, including a child, were wounded. Ten of them were hit with live bullets, 3 were hit with rubber-coated metal bullets, and 18 were hit with tear gas canisters.
In the central Gaza Strip: the clashes occurred in the eastern side of al-Bureij refugee camp. As a result, 10 Palestinians, including 2 children, were wounded; 9 of them were hit with live bullets while the tenth was hit with a gas canister to the face.
In Khan Younis: The clashes and Israeli shooting were concentrated in 4 areas: ‘Abasan al-Kabirah; Khuza’ah; al-Fukhari and al-Qararah. As a result, 33 Palestinians, including 6 children, were wounded; 15 of them were hit with live bullets while the rest were hit with rubber-coated bullets and tear gas canisters.
In Rafah: 5 Palestinians were hit with live bullets to the lower limbs.
At approximately 21:15, Israeli warplanes launched 5 missiles at a training site belonging to al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas Movement, southeast of Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip. The missiles exploded in the site, causing damage to 3 residential buildings and a school next to the site from the western side. As a result, Maher Mohammed Mohammed ‘Atallah (54) was killed after sustaining bruises throughout his body and due to sharp drop in heart rate as he is a heart patient. ‘Atallah was in front of his house around 100 meters away from the targeted site from the north-eastern side. Moreover, 21 Palestinians, including 7 children, 4 women and an armed group member, were wounded. All of them were taken to the Indonesian Hospital in Jabalia. The medical sources described one of the wounded children’s condition as serious while the condition of other wounded persons was minor due to sustaining bruises and wounds.
On Saturday early morning, 09 December 2017, the Ministry of Health in Gaza declared that bodies of 2 armed group members were recovered from Abu Jarad Site, south of Gaza City, as the Israeli warplanes targeted the site at approximately 04:10. The 2 killed members were identified as Mahmoud Mohammed ‘Abdel Qader al-‘Otol (26) and Mohammed Mohammed Jaber al-Safadi (25).
In the West Bank, the Israeli forces used excessive forces against thousands of Palestinian civilians, who organized protests against the American decision throughout 30 areas on the outskirts of the cities, refugee camps, and villages As a result, 97 civilians, including 5 children and 7 journalists, were wounded as the Israeli forces directly targeted the press crews. Moreover, hundreds suffered tear gas inhalation.
PCHR follows up with deep concern the deteriorating situation in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) and condemns the Israeli forces’ excessive use of force against protestors. PCHR believes that all of this happened after the Israeli forces were given the green light following the American decision to declare Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, directly constituting complicity in a crime of aggression and indirectly threatening the international security and peace.
PCHR calls upon the international community and UN bodies to intervene to stop the Israeli crimes and escalating violations and to provide international protection for Palestinians in the oPt.
PCHR warns of the continuing serious repercussions of the American declaration, which provokes the religious feelings of Christians and Muslims around the world, not only in Palestine. This was evinced in the local and international widespread reaction.
PCHR also reiterates its call upon the High Contracting Parties to the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention to fulfill their obligations under Article 1; i.e., to respect and ensure respect for the Convention in all circumstances and their obligations under Article 146 to prosecute persons alleged to commit grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention. These grave breaches constitute war crimes under Article 147 of the same Convention and Protocol (I) Additional to the Geneva Conventions regarding the guarantee of Palestinian civilians’ right to protection in the oPt.