Number of Civilian Causalities in the Great March of Return and Breaking Siege in Gaza Strip Increases; 41 Civilians Killed, including 4 Children and Person with Mobility Impairment, and Around 1500 Civilians Wounded, including Dozens of Children and Women, 8 Journalists, and 12 Paramedics
Date: 14 May 2018
Time: 16:30 GMT
Further to the press release issued by PCHR today afternoon, the Israeli forces continued to use excessive lethal force against the civilian demonstrators along the eastern and northern borders of the Gaza Strip as they continued to fire heavily live bullets, tear gas canisters and artillery shells, inflecting many civilian casualties. As a result, the death toll has amounted to 41, including 4 children and a person with mobility impairment, and around 1500 civilians were wounded, including dozens of children and women, 8 journalists and 12 paramedics.
The number of those killed distributed as follows according to the Gaza Strip Governorates:
- Northern Gaza Strip: 4 civilians killed, including a child.
- Gaza City: 11 civilians killed.
- Central Gaza Strip: 6 civilians killed, including a boy and a girl.
- Khan Younis: 16 civilians killed, including a child.
- Rafah City: 4 civilians killed.
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.
The international community shall end Israel’s impunity and strictly prosecute all those involved in the killings of civilians. PCHR believes that Israel’s impunity thanks to the U.S. encourages the Israeli forces to commit further crimes upon an official decision by the highest military and political echelons.
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 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.