Date: 14 May 2018
Time: 12:00 GMT
In commemoration of the 70th anniversary of Nakba, since today morning, 14 May 2018, hundred thousands of Palestinian civilians, including elderlies, women and children, headed to border fence area with Israel in the eastern and northern Gaza Strip, upon a call by the Supreme National Authority of the Return and Breaking Siege March. Many demonstrators approached the border fence and were only few meters away from Israeli soldiers, chanted slogans and national songs condemning Israel and the closure imposed on the Gaza Strip, in addition to flying kites and burning tires. The Israeli soldiers stationed in military jeeps and sites along the border fence and Israeli drones heavily and continuously fired live and rubber bullets, tear gas canisters and artillery shells at the whole area and not only at those approaching the fence. As a result and so far, 19 Palestinian civilians, including a girl, a boy and a person with mobility impairment, were killed; 6 of whom have been so far unidentified. Moreover, 1000 others, including 74 children, 23 women, 8 journalists, and 11 paramedics, were wounded. Many injuries were classified as serious, including a PCHR’s volunteer fieldworker.
The killed persons were identified as:
- Mo’tasem Fawzi Abu Louli (20), from Rafah, was hit with a live bullet to the chest;
- Mohamed Mahmoud ‘Abdul’al (50), from Rafah, was hit with a live bullet to the chest;
- Ahmed Fawzi Kamel al-Tatar (28), from Rafah, was hit with a live bullet to the back;
- Anas Hamdan Qudaieh (21), from Khan Yunis, was hit with a live bullet to the head;
- ‘Izz al-Deen Mousa al-Samak (14), from al-Buriej, was hit with a live bullet to the upper limbs;
- ‘Obaidah Salem Farhan (30), from Khan Yunis, was hit with a live bullet to the head;
- ‘Izz al-Deen Nahed al-‘Owaiti (23), from Khan Yunis, was hit with a live bullet to the head;
- Bilal Ahmed Abu Daqqah (26), from Khan Yunis, was hit with a live bullet to the head;
- Jehad Mofeed al-Farra (30), from Khan Yunis, was hit with a live bullet to the chest;
- Fadi Abu Salah (30), from Khan Yunis, who suffers from mobility impairment, was hit with a live bullet to the chest;
- ‘Ali Mohamed Khafajah (21), from Rafah, was hit with a live bullet to the head;
- Mohamed Riyad al-‘Amoudi (31), from Gaza City, were hit with a live bullet to the head; and
- Wesal al-Shaiekh Khalil (24), from al-Buriej.
The rest has been so far unidentified.
Field Observations by PCHR’s Fieldworkers Confirm the Following:
- The demonstrations have been entirely peaceful, and the fieldworkers have not witnessed any armed manifestations despite the state of outrage and fervor prevailing among the demonstrators who were hundreds of thousands.
- An outstanding participation of women and children in the demonstrations.
- The Israeli Forces unprecedentedly and heavily stationed along the border fence and inside the military sites surrounding the area along with intensive flight of the Israeli warplanes.
- Tear gas canisters were intensively and unprecedentedly fired from the drones and by the Israeli soldiers stationed along the border fence or in the military sites. The tear gas has spared none, including PCHR’s staff that was in the field.
- Ambulances, medical staff, and field clinics were deliberately and directly targeted and prevented from approaching those wounded in addition to causing injuries among them.
- Journalists are directly targeted, causing injuries among them.
- The Israeli fire targeted the upper part of the body as dozens sustained wounds to the head and chest and many are in critical condition; thus, the number of deaths is likely to increase.
PCHR reiterates its warning of ongoing use of lethal force against Palestinian civilians. PCHR emphasizes that the demonstrations are entirely peaceful and civilians have the right to raise their voice and express their opinions against the Israeli occupation and the closure in addition to enjoying their right to return. Thus, PCHR stresses that Israel shall be prosecuted and held accountable by investgating with it into these crimes.
PCHR also stresses that this ongoing policy by Israel violates the Rome STATUTE OF THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT (ICC) and Fourth Geneva Convention, and its practices qualify to war crimes. Thus, PCHR calls upon the ICC Prosecutor to open an official investigation into these crimes in addition to prosecuting and holding accountable all of those involved in issuing decisions and orders in the Israeli forces at the political and security level and those applying the orders.
PCHR asks for the presence of international observers from the United Nations (UN) bodies in the Gaza Strip to make sure that these demonstrations are totally peaceful and even if the Israeli authorities denied their access to Gaza, they can observe from the Israeli side of the borders.
PCHR hereby condemns this new crime committed by the Israeli forces, believing it is as a result of Israel’s enjoying impunity thanks to the U.S. and so encouraging the Israeli forces to commit further crimes upon an official decision by the highest military and political echelons.
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.
PCHR calls upon Switzerland, in its capacity as the Depository State for the Convention, to demand the High Contracting Parties to convene a meeting and ensure Israel’s respect for this Convention, noting that 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 occupied territories.