Ref:43/2018

Time: 19:00 GMT

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On Friday, 13 April 2018, Israeli forces killed a Palestinian civilian and wounded 398 others, including 50 children, 8 women, 3 journalists and 4 paramedics.  Among those wounded, 270 civilians, who were participating in fully peaceful demonstrations around 100 meters away from the border fence with Israel, were hit with live bullets, rendering 17 of them in serious condition.  Upon a military and political decision from the highest levels, Israeli forces used deadly force against the peaceful demonstrators who did not pose threat to the life of soldiers.  Moreover, a civilian was killed an hour after being shot by the Israeli forces in Eastern Khuza’ah in Khan Younis.  Though the number of those killed this week decreased, the Israeli forces continued for the third week to use lethal force in order to suppress the largest peaceful demonstration that the Gaza Strip has ever witnessed along the border fence with Israel in the eastern Gaza Strip.  Thus, the death toll has increased to 29 civilians, including 3 children, and the number of civilians wounded has reached 2165, including 352 children and 60 women, since 30 March.

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PCHR’s investigations and observations by its fieldworkers confirm the following:

  • Though the number of victims killed this week decreased, dozens of Israeli snipers stationed behind sand barriers and hills and military jeeps along the border fence in the eastern Gaza Strip deliberately and selectively opened fire but more lightly than the previous times at the participants in the peaceful demonstrations that included dozen thousands of civilians in 5 areas in the eastern Gaza Strip. As a result, that civilian was killed and others were directly wounded, including 17 in critical condition, in addition to targeting the demonstrators with hundreds of tear gas canisters.  All of this proves that on the last two Fridays, the Israeli forces deliberately incur maximum deaths.
  • The demonstrations were as always fully peaceful, and PCHR’s fieldworkers did not witness weapons or even armed persons dressed in civilian clothes among the demonstrators, who were thousands of elderlies, women, children and entire families raising flags, chanting slogans and national songs and flying kites. The demonstrators also set fire to tires and burned the Israeli flags while in other demonstrations there were folklore and sports shows.  However, the demonstrators were targeted by the Israeli forces.
  • Again, there was no threat to the soldiers’ life and no Israeli soldier has so far been wounded. Though few numbers of demonstrators approached the border fence and attempted to throw stones, they did not pose any threat or danger to the life of Israeli soldiers who were stationed behind sand barriers that are around 50-100 meters away from the fence.
  • During this week, the Israeli forces widely used bursts of tear gas canisters targeting the center of the demonstrations and beyond away from the demonstrators near the border fence. As a result, many civilians suffered tear gas inhalation and seizures ; some of them were transferred to hospitals.
  • The Israeli forces targeted with 10 gas canisters the field hospital and a medical tent belonging to the Algerian Society in Khuza’ah and its vicinity, noting that both are 800 meters away from the border fence. Moroever, the ambulance crews were targeted in Rafah and al-Bureij refugee camp.  This proves that the Israeli forces deliberately and explicitly target and obstruct the work of medical crews for the first time since the beginning of the incidents.  As a result, dozen members of medical crews suffered tear gas inhalation while 4 paramedics were shot with bullets and directly hit with tear gas canisters.
  • The Israeli forces again directly targeted the press crews. As a result, Ahmed Mohammed Hasan Ashraf Abu Hasan (24) was hit a bullet to his left underarm while he was covering the demonstration in eastern Jabalia and wearing his Press-marked vest and helmet. His injury was classified serious. Moreover, 2 journalists were hit with live bullets and tear gas canisters in Rafah while press crews on live streaming and standing 700 meters away from the border fence, east of Khuza’ah, were targeted with tear gas canisters.
  • PCHR’s investigations emphasize that civilian killed and other injuries were in the head, neck, chest and abdomen as there are 17 civilians, including a photojournalist, in critical condition, portending to increase the death toll.
  • According to medical sources in the Gaza Strip hospitals when dealing with the injuries, many were hit with live bullets, causing large tissue lacerations and big holes in the injured part, indicating the bullets used are explosive live bullets.

The incidents today, 13 April 2018, were as follows:

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Since early morning, 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 demonstrations 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, set fire to tires and threw stone.  The activities were only about raising the Palestinian flags, chanting slogans and burning the Israeli flags.

The Israeli shooting which continued until 19:00 according to PCHR’s fieldworkers resulted in the killing of Islam Mahmoud Rushdi Herzallah (27) after being hit with a bullet that entered his back and exited the abdomen during a demonstration in Eastern Gaza.

Moreover, 398 other civilians were wounded, including 50 children, 8 women, 3 journalists and 4 paramedics.  Among those wounded, 270 were hit with live bullets, including 17 in serious condition, in addition to hundreds suffering tear gas inhalation and seizures after the Israeli forces stationed along the border fence heavily fired tear gas canisters.

 

At approximately 19:15 on Thursday, 12 April 2018, medical sources at al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City declared the death of ‘Abdullah Mohammed ‘Abudllah al-Shahri (28), from Khan Younis, an hour after his injury with a bullet to the chest.  The Israeli forces opened fire at him during a demonstration in Khuza’ah in Eastern Khan Younis.

 

PCHR emphasizes that killings and injuries due to the Israeli forces’ firing of bullets and canisters is unjustified as civilians who practice their right to peaceful assembly are being targeted.  PCHR also stresses that this ongoing policy by Israel violate the Rome STATUTE OF THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT and Fourth Geneva Convention, and its practices are war crimes.

PCHR emphasizes that those involved in issuing decisions and orders in the Israeli forces at the political and security levels and those applying the orders shall be prosecuted and held accountable.

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, considered the demonstration itself posing danger to 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 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.  PCHR also emphasizes that Israel’s impunity encourages it to continue committing crimes; thus, Israel shall be held accountable and prosecuted by investigating with it into these crimes.

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.

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