On Friday Afternoon, 22 December 2017, Israeli forces killed 2 Palestinian civilians and wounded 111 others, including 12 children. In addition, dozens of civilians, including 5 paramedics, suffered tear gas inhalation, in the Gaza Strip and West Bank as Israeli forces excessively used force against participants in protests. Moreover, a Palestinian civilian in the Gaza Strip, succumbed to his wounds in a previous protest. These incidents came in light of the ongoing tense atmosphere following the U.S. President’s Donald Trump Decision to recognize Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel and move the U.S. Embassy to it, constituting a dangerous precedent that violates the international law.
This high number of casualties, particularly killings, proves that Israeli forces deliberately killed civilians through direct sniper operations in peaceful and nonviolent protests, which is confirmed by deploying Israeli sniper officers and their existence adjacent to areas, where protests take place. Since the beginning of these clashes, there has been no serious harm or threat to soldiers’ lives. However, the Israeli forces continue their systematic crimes and indiscriminate use of excessive and disproportionate force against Palestinian civilians in disregard for their lives.
PCHR’s follow-up showed that it is clear that the Israeli forces heavily and upon a decision use live ammunition; some of which is explosive, to confront the unarmed civilians. Thus, for the second consecutive Friday, the number of Palestinians wounded with live bullets east of the Gaza Strip increased in addition to directly hitting them with tear gas canisters.
This comes upon the Israeli forces’ threats, one day ago, by its spokesperson, Avijaa Adraei, to the protestors in the Gaza Strip: “Your arrival at the annexation wall and your attempts to damage it endanger your lives.”
The Israeli forces also fired dozens of tear gas canisters through special vehicles at the protests. As a result, dozens of civilians suffered fatigue, cramps, vomiting, coughing and high heart rate. Some of them were transferred to the hospital while others were treated on the spot.
In the Gaza Strip, the eastern and northern areas witnessed protests against the U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision, and the Israeli forces used force against the protestors. As a result, two Palestinian civilians were killed and 85 others were wounded, including 12 children. Fifty-five of the wounded civilians were hit with live bullets, 35 were hit with tear gas canisters, and dozens of civilians, including 5 paramedics, suffered tear gas inhalation. Furthermore, an ambulance sustained damage while a Palestinian civilian succumbed to his wounds in pervious protest.
According to PCHR’s investigations, at approximately 13:00 on Friday, 15 December 2017, dozens of young men and youngsters gathered few meters away from the border fence with Israel near former Nahal Oz Crossing, east of al-Sheja’eya neighborhood, east of Gaza City. They set fire to tires and threw stones at the Israeli forces stationed along the border fence in protest against the U.S. President’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel. Clashes continued until approximately 19:00 on the same day. As a result, Mohamed Nabil Mohamed Muhasin (30), from al-Shuja’iyia neighborhood, was killed after he sustained a live bullet wound to the left thigh.
In similar circumstances, during the same period, the Israeli soldiers sporadically fired tear gas canisters and live bullets at the protestors, who gathered few meters away from the border fence with Israel, near Beit Hanoun crossing in the northern Gaza Strip. As a result, Zakaria Adham Hussein al-Kafarna (20), from al-Amal neighborhood in Beit Hanoun, was killed with a live bullet to the chest while he was near the crossing vehicles’ gate on the asphalt road of the crossing.
On Saturday, 23 December 2017, medical sources at the Indonesian Hospital in Jabalia, north of the Gaza Strip, announced the death of Sharif al-‘Abed Mohammed Shalash ( 28) from Jabalia refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip. Sharif was staying in the Intensive Care Unit ( ICU) after being hit with a live bullet to the abdomen on Sunday, 17 December 2017, while he was participating in a protest organized in the east of the al-Shuhada’a Islamic Cemetery, east of Jabalia.
The Injuries were as follows throughout the Gaza Strip:
Northern Gaza Strip: the confrontations were mainly in the vicinity of al-Shuhadaa’ Cemetery, east of Jabalia; in the vicinity of Beit Hanoun Crossing; and in Abu Samrah area, north of Beit Lahia. As a result, 24 Palestinians, including 5 children, were wounded. Ten were hit with live bullets; 14 were hit with tear gas canisters; and dozens suffered tear gas inhalation.
Gaza City: the clashes and Israeli shooting were mainly near former Nahal Oz Crossing, east of al-Shuja’iyah neighborhood. As a result, 24 Palestinians were wounded. Twelve were hit with live bullets; 12 were hit with tear gas canisters; and dozens of civilians, including 5 paramedics, suffered tear gas inhalation.
Central Gaza Strip: the clashes and Israeli shooting occurred in the eastern side of al-Bureij refugee camp. As a result, 11 Palestinians, including 3 children, were wounded. Nine were hit with live bullets; 2 were directly hit with tear gas canisters; and others suffered tear gas inhalation. Moreover, an ambulance belonging to the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) sustained damage after being hit with a tear gas canister.
Khan Younis: The clashes and Israeli shooting were concentrated in 4 areas: ‘Abasan al-Kabirirah and al-Jadidah; Khuza’ah; and al-Qararah. As a result, 21 Palestinians, including 2 children, were wounded. Nineteen were hit with live bullets, including a lawyer, who was dressing as Santa Claus and distributing gifts to participants. Moreover, 2 civilians were hit with tear gas canisters; while others suffered tear gas inhalation.
Rafah: The clashes and Israeli shooting mainly occurred in the eastern side of al-Shokah neighborhood and in the vicinity of Kerem Shalom crossing, east of Rafah. As a result, 5 Palestinians were hit live bullets to the lower limbs.
In the West Bank, All the cities, in around 40 areas, witnessed protests against the U.S. President’s decision. During those protests, Israeli forces used excessive force against the protesters to disperse them. As a result, 26 Palestinians were wounded. The wounds of one of them were classified as serious. Six of those wounded were hit with live bullets, 20 were hit with rubber-coated metal bullets, one directly hit with a tear gas canister, and dozens suffered tear gas inhalation.
PCHR follows up with deep concern the deteriorating situation in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) and seriously consider the use of lethal force against unarmed civilians participating in nonviolent and peaceful protests, in violation of the international humanitarian law standards.
PCHR also condemns the Israeli forces’ use of lethal and excessive force against the protesters and believes it is as a result of giving Israel the green light following the U.S. decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. PCHR also emphasizes that this decision is complicity in a crime of aggression and directly threatens the international peace and security.
PCHR calls upon the international community and UN bodies to intervene to stop the Israeli escalating crimes and violations and work on providing international protection for Palestinians in the oPt.
PCHR also warns of the serious repercussions of the U.S. declaration, which has stirred up the feelings of millions of Muslims and Christians around the world, not only in Palestine. This was clearly evinced in the widespread international and local 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.