On Friday,06 April 2018, Israeli forces killed 7 Palestinian civilians, including 2 children, and wounded 718 others, including 77 children, 17 women, 3 journalists, and 5 paramedics, while participating in peaceful demonstrations few meters away from the border fence with Israel. The Israeli forces used excessive lethal force against the Palestinian civilians, who did not pose threat to the soldiers’ life, upon an official decision at the highest military and political levels.
Furthermore, another Palestinian civilian succumbed to wounds he sustained during the Earth Day protests on Friday, 30 March 2018, near the eastern borders of the Gaza Strip. The Israeli forces continue to commit further crimes for the second consecutive week in the largest peaceful demonstration organized along the border with Israel, east of the Gaza Strip. As a result, the number of killed persons amounted to 24, including 3 children, while the wounded increased to 1876, including 299 children and 57 women.
The investigations and field observations conducted by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR)’s fieldworkers revealed that:
– Dozens of Israeli snipers and military jeeps stationed behind sand barriers along the border fence, east of the Gaza Strip, sporadically and deliberately opened fire at the participants in the peaceful assemblies that included hundred thousands of civilians and concentrated in 5 areas in the eastern Gaza Strip. As a result, civilians were directly killed, wounded, and hit with dozens tear gas canisters.
-The Israeli forces stationed 50-100 meters inside the border fence, rendering a far distance between them and the main demonstration protestors, while only a few numbers of the protesters attempted to approach the border fence in order to throw stones and raise flags. Thus, the distance between the soldiers and protesters cannot in any way pose any threat to the Israeli soldiers.
– The assemblies were fully peaceful and PCHR’s fieldworkers did not observe and armed persons or acts among the protesters. Additionally, thousands of civilians, including women, children, and elderlies, within entire families raised flags, chanted slogans and folk songs, and flew kites.
– At the beginning of the demonstration and following the Friday prayer, PCHRs fieldworkers observed setting fire to a large number of tires in border areas.
-The killed persons were hit to the head, neck, chest, and abdomen. This proves that the Israeli forces deliberately killed and caused bodily harm to the demonstrators, in which most injuries were in the limbs.
– Medical sources at the Gaza Strip hospitals stated that most of the wounded persons, who were hit with live bullets, suffered serious tissue laceration and deep wounds, which proves that the Israeli forces used explosive bullets.
The events on 06 April 2018, were as follows:
On Friday early morning, 06 April 2018, ten thousands of civilians, including women and children, within entire families started swarming to 5 camps established by the Supreme National Authority for the Great March of Return and Breaking Siege in eastern Rafah City; Khuza’ah in Khan Younis; al-Bureij in Central Gaza Strip; Sheja’eyah neighborhood in Gaza City; and Eastern Jabalia in the northern Gaza Strip.
Following the Friday Prayer, the number of participants in the five assemblies increased, reaching to hundred thousands of men, elderlies, women and children. They deployed inside and outside the camps yards, raised flags, and chanted slogans and folk songs, while only a few numbers of them attempted to approach the border fence in order to throw stones and raise flags.
The Israeli forces fired live bullets at the protesters. As a result, -until 19:00 on today according to PCHR’s fieldworkers’ documentation- 7 persons were killed, including 2 in eastern Rafah, one in eastern Khan Yunis, 2 in eastern al-Buraij in the central Gaza Strip, one in eastern Gaza City and one in eastern Jabalia. All of them were hit in the upper part of the body; head, chest and abdomen.
Moreover, 718 civilians were wounded, including 77 children, 17 women, 3 journalists and 5 paramedics in addition to hundreds suffering tear gas inhalation after tear gas canisters were heavily fired by the soldiers stationed along the border fence.
Those killed were identified as:
- Mohammed Sa’ed Mousa al-Haj Saleh (33) from Rafah was hit with 2 live bullets to the abdomen and chest and died after few hours of his injury east of Rafah.
- ‘Ala’a Eden Yehyah al-Zameli (16) from Rafah was hit with a live bullet to the neck , east of Rafah.
- Osama Khamis Musalam Qdaih (38) from ‘Abasan al-Kabirah in Khan Yunis was hit with a live bullet to the head east of Khuza’ah.
- Ibrahim Zeyad Salamah al-‘Aar (20) from al-Nuseirat was hit with a live bullet to the head, east of al-Buraij.
- Sedqi Taleb Mohammed Abu ‘Atawi (45) from al-Nuseirat was hit with a live bullet to the head, east of al-Buraij.
- Husein Mohammed ‘Adnan Madi (14) from Sheikh Redwan neighborhood in Gaza City was hit with a live bullet to the chest, east of al-Sheja’eyah neighborhood in Gaza City.
- Majdi Ramadan Mousa Shabat (38) from Beit Hanoun was hit with a live bullet to the neck, northeast of Jabalia.
At approximately 06:30 on the morning, medical sources at al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City announced the death of Mohammed Abdul Ra’ouf Rab’aah (30) from Jabalia. He succumbed to wounds he sustained to the thighs last Friday.
This huge number of victims proves that the Israeli forces continue to commit further crimes and use of excessive force against Palestinian civilians in disregard for their lives upon an official political decision.
PCHR emphasizes that before occurrence of demonstrations, Israeli political and military officials issued statements in which they threatened to cause death and injury among the demonstrators. They also considered that the demonstration itself poses a danger at them.
PCHR hereby condemns this new crime committed by the Israeli forces that resulted in this huge number of causalities, killed and wounded, believing it is as a result of the international community’s silence towards the crimes committed by the Israeli forces upon an official decision at the highest military and political levels.
PCHR points out that the targeting this time was against explicitly peaceful assemblies that include hundred thousands, including thousands of children and women, and by directly firing live bullets without those demonstrators posing any threat to life of soldiers and in disregard by the Israeli forces for the life of hundred thousands of demonstrators.
PCHR warns that as long as Israel continues to deny the rights of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and impose a tightened closure on them in addition to refusing to implement the UN resolutions relevant to refugees and their rights, these demonstrations are expected to continue and increase; a fact that will require the international community and UN Bodies’ intervention to stop the Israeli escalating violations and crimes and to provide international protection for Palestinians in the occupied territory.
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 occupied territories.