On Friday, 20 July 2018, using excessive lethal force against the peaceful protesters in eastern Gaza Strip for the 17th Friday in a row, Israeli forces killed a Palestinian civilian and wounded 78 other civilians, including 18 children, 2 women and 2 journalists. Seven of those wounded sustained serious wounds. Moreover, dozens of civilians suffered tear gas inhalation. Upon a Decision by the highest political and military echelons, the Israeli forces continued to use excessive force against the peaceful protesters, who posed no threat to the life of the soldiers.
Coinciding with the suppression of peaceful demonstrations, Israeli warplanes and artilleries targeted 7 military sites in the eastern Gaza Strip, which resulted in the killing of 3 members of armed resistance groups. The spokesperson of the Israeli forces claimed that the attack was in response to the shooting at a military force in the southern Gaza strip. The spokesperson of the Israeli forces also declared that the Israeli warplanes launched airstrikes targeting several sites in the Gaza Strip, as the airstrikes have been on while making this press release, portending an increase in the number of casualties.
Table of Civilian Casualties due to the Israeli Suppression since the Beginning of the Great March of Return on 30 March
|Among those Killed, there are 3 Persons with Disabilities and a female child||2||2||1||17||116||Killed|
|Among those wounded, 341 in serious condition and 68 had their lower or upper limbs amputated (Injuries among the medical personnel were due to bullets and gas canisters)||320||75||194||1029||6156||Wounded|
- 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.
- The Israeli snipers deliberately and selectively opened fire at the participants in the peaceful demonstrations which included hundreds of civilians in different areas in the eastern Gaza Strip.
- The Israeli forces continued to target the medical personnel directly and deliberately as they wounded and targeted 2 of them with tear gas canisters, east of al-Buriej Camp.
- At approximately 18:10, an Israeli tank stationed off the protesters and heavily opened fire at them in Kuza’a village, east of Khan Yunis, causing many injuries. Four civilians were wounded in the center of ‘Abasan village, one of them sustianed serious wounds.
- The Israeli forces widely used bursts of tear gas canisters and from drones, military jeep and soldiers’ rifles, 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 dozens 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.
- Journalists were again targeted with bullets and tear gas canisters, wounding 2 journalists in eastern Rafah and Khan Yunis , south of the Gaza Strip.
- 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.
The incidents today, 20 July 2018, were as follows:
At approximately 16:00, hundreds of civilians, including women, children and entire families, started swarming to 5 encampments 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 the Central Gaza Strip; Shija’eyah neighborhood in Gaza City; and eastern Jabalia in the northern Gaza Strip.
The number of participants gradually increased, reaching a peak at approximately 16:30, in the five demonstration areas, and they were estimated at thousands of men, elderlies, women and children. They were inside and outside the encampment yards, raising flags, and chanting slogans and national songs in addition to flying kites and firing balloons, 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. Moreover, the protestors removed the barbed wire fence established by the Israeli forces inside the Palestinian territories around 30-50 meters away from the main border fence.
The Israeli shooting which continued until 20:00 resulted in the killing of Mohamed Shareef ‘Abed Badwan (23). From al-Zaytoun neighborhood in Gaza City. Mohamed was hit with a live bullet to the chest while participating in the protests in eastern Gaza City.
Moreover, 78 civilians, including 18 children, 2 women and 2 journalists, were wounded. Seven of those wounded sustained serious wounds. In addition, dozens of civilians suffered tear gas inhalation and seizures while covering the suppression of demonstrations, after Israeli forces fired tear gas canisters.
PCHR 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 emphasizes that continuously inflicting casualties, either killed or wounded, is unjustified and targeting and killing civilians, who exercise their right to peaceful assembly or while carrying out their humanitarian duty, using lethal force is a serious violation of the rules of intentional law and international humanitarian law.
PCHR emphasizes that ongoing attacks against the Palestinian medical personnel, especially those working in the field, constitute a serious violation of the international human rights and humanitarian laws and the international standards regulating the protection rules of medical personnel, including paramedics, their vehicles and medical facilities. The serious violations and deliberate attacks against the medical personnel amount to war crimes according to the 1949 fourth Geneva Convention, particularly the scope of protection provided to them.
PCHR believes that continuously targeting journalists while on duty with bullets and tear gas canisters proves that there is an Israeli policy to target journalists in order to prevent them from covering the Israeli suppression of the peaceful protestors, in violation of the rule of 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 calls for the prompt formation of an international commission of inquiry according to the UN Human Rights Council’s Resolution to investigate the crimes committed by the Israeli forces against unarmed civilians in the Return March activities.
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.