For Seventh Friday on Row and Despite Peaceful Nature of the March of Return and Breaking Siege Demonstrations in Gaza Strip, Israeli Forces Excessively Use Lethal Force and Willful Killing and Injury against Palestinian Civilians
On Friday Afternoon, 11 May 2018, Israeli forces killed a Palestinian civilian and wounded 338 others, including 43 children and 7 women, in excessive use of force against the peaceful demonstrators in the eastern Gaza Strip for the seventh Friday on a row. Six journalists and one paramedic were among those wounded and targeted with live bullets and direct tear gas canisters in addition to hundreds suffering tear gas inhalation, including PCHR’s fieldworkers who were covering the Israeli forces’ suppression of the fully peaceful demonstrations near the border fence with Israel in the eastern Gaza Strip. The Israeli forces used upon highest military and political echelons excessive force against the peaceful demonstrators who posed no threat to the life of Israeli soldiers.
The following table shows number of Civilian casualties due to the Israeli suppression of the Return Demonstrations Since 30 of March
|Deaths||41||5||–||2||–||Among those Killed there are 2 Persons with Disabilities (Deaf)|
|Injuries||3359||569||87||41||25||Among those wounded, 187 are in serious condition and 24 persons’ lower or upper limbs were amputated|
Investigations and observations by PCHR’s fieldworkers during this week 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 in eastern Rafah, Khuza’ah in eastern Khan Younis, al-Bureij Refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip, Shija’iyah neighborhood in Gaza City, and eastern Jabalia in the northern Gaza Strip.
- 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. As a result, a Palestinian civilian was killed and 338 others; 24 of them in critical condition, were wounded. Among those wounded, 200 were hit with live or explosive bullets, noting that most injuries occurred in the demonstration areas that is around 30-300 meters away from the border fence.
- The Israeli forces widely used 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 serious injuries, while the gas coming of them made hundreds, including PCHR’s fieldworkers who were documenting the incidents, 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 weapons or armed persons even dressed in civilian clothes among the demonstrators, who were thousands 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.
- PCHR fieldworkers’ observations emphasize that children are not used as human shields by the demonstrators. This emphasis was based on the totally peaceful nature of the demonstrations, participation of entire families, including their children, and some women and children’s offering water for the demonstrators and raising flags.
- The Israeli forces targeted with tear gas canisters the points where ambulances belonging to the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) were parking in eastern al-Bureij Refugee Camp. They also targeted an ambulance belonging to the Medical Military Services with a bullet and another vehicle belonging to the Civil Defense with a direct gas canister, which penetrated the window and caused gas inhalation to 3 of its officers in eastern Rafah. Meanwhile, a PRCS volunteer paramedic was targeted with a gas canister to his back in eastern Khuza’ah in Khan Younis. This indicates repeated targeting of medical staffs while on duty and purposively obstructing their work in clear violation of international laws.
- Journalists were again directly targeted, resulting in the injury of 6 of them (2 with live bullets and shrapnel in Gaza City, 3 hit with gas canisters in Khan Younis and 1 hit with gas canister in eastern Rafah ). Moreover, The Israeli forces targeted the places where journalist were present; as a result, many of them suffered tear gas inhalation, obstructing their work. This reflects an Israeli systematic policy to target journalists to hinder them from exposing the crimes committed by the Israeli forces against the demonstrators.
- The Israeli 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.
The incidents today, 11 May 2018, were as follows:
Since early morning, hundreds of civilians, including women and children within entire families, started swarming to 5 encampments set 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 the Central Gaza Strip; Shija’eyah neighborhood in Gaza City; and eastern Jabalia in the northern Gaza Strip.
Following the Friday Prayer at approximately 13:30, the number of participants gradually increased, reaching a peak at approximately 16:00, in the five demonstration areas, and they were estimated at thousands of men, elderlies, women and children. They deployed inside and outside the encampment yards, raising flags, and chanting slogans and national songs in addition to flying kites, while hundreds of them, including children and women, approached the border fence, set fire to tires and attempted to throw stones at the Israeli forces.
The Israeli fire continued until 20:00 according to PCHR’s fieldworkers in the 5 areas. As a result, Jaber Salem ‘Abdullah Abu Mustafa (39), from Khan Younis, was killed after being hit with a bullet to the chest at approximately 16:28 when he was around 100 meters away from the border fence, north of the Return encampment, east of Khuza’ah.
Moreover, 338 civilians in the eastern Gaza demonstration areas were wounded with live bullets and direct hits of tear gas canisters, including 43 children and 7 women. Two hundred of those wounded were hit with live bullets and shrapnel and the others were hit either with rubber bullets or with direct hits of tear gas canisters. Among those wounded, 6 journalists and 1 paramedic were wounded with live bullets and direct hits of tear gas canisters. In addition, hundreds suffered tear gas inhalation and seizures, including PCHR’s fieldworkers while documenting the Israeli forces’ suppression of the entirely peaceful demonstrations.
PCHR emphasizes that the rules of international law, including the international human rights law and international humanitarian law, shall be applied when dealing with the peaceful demonstrations along the Gaza Strip borders. Thus, PCHR stresses that the occupation has an international obligation to apply the Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials.
Principles on the Use of firearms stipulate that soldiers should not use live fire unless their life is under imminent threat and the shooting must be gradual and proportionate with the threat. First, the soldiers shall give a warning and not in any case use live bullets, except as a last option to defend themselves or others in cases of imminent threat aiming at hindering the attacker’s movement and not killing him.
According to PCHR’s follow-up and its fieldworker’s observations, the facts on the grounds confirm that no threat was posed to life of the soldiers who are hundreds of meters away from the demonstrators separated by a security fence and fortifications, including a huge sand barrier and personal shields. Even in instances when they approached the border fence, the demonstrators posed no threat as they appear to have been unarmed and in light of the heavy fortifications. This confirms there was no possible threat or imminent danger to the soldiers’ life and this was proven by the zero Israeli causalities since the beginning of the demonstrations on 30 March.
Moreover, PCHR’s follow-up of the deaths and injuries confirms that the Israeli soldiers used live and explosive bullets and deliberately targeted the demonstrators aiming at killing them or causing lifelong disabilities, and this can be clarified from the places of injury; many of which were in the head and upper part of the body or in the knee.
PCHR emphasizes that the increasing number of casualties, deaths or injuries, is unjustified as civilians who practice their right to peaceful assembly are being targeted.
- 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.