Date: 16 May 2018
Time: 10:00 GMT
Yesterday afternoon, 15 May 2018, Israeli forces killed 2 Palestinian civilians; one of them is a child, and wounded 45 others, including 3 journalists, a female paramedic and 5 children, in excessive use of force against the peaceful demonstrators in the eastern Gaza Strip. In the afternoon, those demonstrators swarmed to the border area, east and north of the Gaza Strip, to continue the activities of the March of Return and Breaking the Siege declared one month and a half ago. Those events came after a bloody day when the Israeli forces recruited the most violent force against those peaceful demonstrators and killed 42 Palestinian civilians, including 5 children, in addition to wounding 1500 other civilians, including dozens of children and women. Meanwhile, PCHR is still investigating into the killing of 17 other Palestinians, including a child, near the Eastern Cemetery, east of Jabalia.
The two civilians killed were identified as:
- Naser Ahmed Mahmoud Ghorab (51) was hit with a bullet to the chest when he was near a tent in the Return encampment in eastern al-Bureij refugee camp around 600 meters away from the border fence with Israel.
- Belal Budeir Hussein al-Ashram (17) was hit with 2 bullets to the chest and left leg when he was 150 meters away from the border fence with Israel in eastern al-Bureij refugee camp.
The following table shows the number of civilian casualties due to the Israeli suppression of the Return demonstrations since 30th March
|Killed||86||12||–||2||–||3 of those killed are persons with disability|
|Wounded||6106||860||158||54||29||Among those wounded, there are 30 persons had their limbs amputated while 200 persons are still in a very serious condition|
Investigations and Field observations by PCHR’s fieldworkers emphasize the following:
- Dozens of Israeli Forces’ snipers continued to position on the hills, behind the sand barriers and in military jeeps along the border fence in front of the peaceful demonstrations in the eastern Gaza Strip.
- According to PCHR’s fieldworkers, the number of youth gatherings near the border fence augmented to reach dozens who set fire to tires and attempted to throw stones at the Israeli forces.
- The Israeli snipers deliberately and selectively opened fire at the participants in the peaceful demonstrations which included thousands of civilians in different areas in the eastern Gaza Strip.
- The Israeli forces widely fired bursts of tear gas canisters and from drones, targeting the center of the demonstrations and near the demonstrators near the border fence. As a result, many civilians were directly targeted and hit with tear gas canisters, causing injuries, while the gas coming from them made hundreds suffer tear gas inhalation, fainting and seizures. Some of them were transferred to hospitals; including few so far receive medical treatment.
- The demonstrations were as always fully peaceful, and PCHR’s fieldworkers did not witness armed manifestations or armed persons even dressed in civilian clothes among the demonstrators, who were hundreds of elderlies, women, children and entire families, demonstrating near the border fence and raising flags, chanting slogans and national songs, flying kites and burning tires.
- The Israeli forces targeted many times the places where the ambulances belonging to the Ministry of Health were parked, causing severe damage to them.
- The Journalists were again targeted by tear gas canisters, resulting in the injury of 3 of them in eastern Khan Younis.
- The Israeli unjustified and fallacious incitement against the peaceful demonstrations and encampments continues, perceiving the demonstration itself as danger. This hereby violates the right to peaceful assembly codified in all International instruments.
PCHR emphasizes that the increasing number of casualties, deaths or injuries, is unjustified and proof of targeting civilians who practice their right to peaceful assembly. Moreover, killing them using the deadly force is a serious violation of international law and international humanitarian law.
- PCHR emphasizes that the demonstrations are fully peaceful and civilians have the right to raise their voices against the Israeli forces and closure and enjoy their right to return. Thus, PCHR stresses that Israel shall be held accountable and prosecuted through investigating 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.
- PCHR calls for an international commission to investigate the crimes committed by the Israeli forces against the unarmed civilians participating in the Return March activities.