Date: 10 August 2018
Time: 06:30 GMT
On Friday, 10 August 2018, using excessive lethal force against the peaceful protesters in eastern Gaza Strip for the 20th Friday in a row, Israeli forces killed 2 Palestinian civilians, including a volunteer paramedic, and wounded 143 other civilians, including 22 children, 3 women, 4 paramedics, and 2 journalists. Forty-four of those wounded sustained serious wounds due to hitting with live bullets and direct tear gas canisters. Moreover, dozens of civilians suffered tear gas inhalation. The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) is concerned over the continuation of targeting medical personnel while on duty, in which 2 paramedics were previously killed and dozens of them sustained wounds in the eastern Gaza Strip. Moreover, many ambulances sustained damage, indicating that there is a systematic Israeli policy to target medical personnel and obstruct their humanitarian work, which is protected under the rules of international humanitarian law.
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. The number of civilian casualties due to the Israeli suppression since the beginning of the Great March of Return on 30 March, has amounted to 126 deaths, including 23 children, 2 girls ( a child and a female volunteer paramedic), 2 paramedics, 2 journalists, and 3 persons with disabilities; and 6557 injuries, including 1102 children, 200 women, 78 journalists, and 63 paramedics. Among those wounded, 384 in serious condition and 68 had their lower or upper limbs amputated.
Investigations and observations by PCHR’s fieldworkers emphasize that the demonstrations were as always fully peaceful and PCHR’s fieldworkers did not witness weapons or armed persons whereas Israeli forces’ snipers continued to position on the hills, behind the sand barriers and in military jeeps along the border fence.
The incidents today, 10 August 2018, were as follows:
At approximately 16:00, thousands 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 along the border fence, east of the Gaza Strip’s governorates. They raised flags, and chanted 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. The participants were present around 300 meters away from the main border fence.
According to observations by PCHR’s fieldworkers, Israeli tanks stationed in front of the demonstrators and heavily opened fire at them and their surroundings in an attempt to disperse them. The Israeli tanks also fired sound and smoke bombs at the demonstrators for the first time. Moreover, the Israeli forces’ snipers deliberately and selectively opened fire at the participants present around 200 meters away from the border fence. The Israeli shooting resulted in the killing of 2 Palestinian civilians, including a paramedic, in eastern Rafah. The abovementioned civilians were wounded at approximately 18:15, while they were around 50-100 meters away from the border fence when an Israeli tank heavily opened fire at the demonstrators, east of the city. In less than an hour of their injury, medical sources at the European Hospital declared their death. Those civilians killed were identified as:
- ‘Abdullah Sabri ‘Atiyiah al-Qitati (22), a volunteer paramedic in pulse of life youth team, from Rafah. ‘Abdullah was hit with a live bullet that entered and exited his back.
- ‘Ali Sa’ied ‘Ali al-‘Aloul (55), from Rafah, who was hit with a live bullet that entered his chest from the right side and exited from the left side.
The Israeli shooting which continued until 20:00 resulted in the wounding of 143 civilians, including 22 children, 3 women, 4 paramedics, and 2 journalists. Forty-four of those wounded sustained serious wounds. Among those wounded, 112 were hit with live bullets while the rest of them were hit with direct tear gas canisters. In addition, dozens of civilians suffered tear gas inhalation and seizures after tear gas canisters were heavily fired by the soldiers stationed along the border fence and by drones hovering over the protesters.
The incidents were classified as follows according to the Gaza Strip Governorates:
- Northern Gaza Strip: incidents occurred in eastern Jabalia and resulted in the wounding of 32 civilians, including 7 children, women and a paramedic, by live bullets and direct tear gas canisters; 7 of those wounded sustained serious wound. Among the wounded persons, 28 were hit with live bullets and 4 were hit with tear gas canister.
- Gaza City: incidents occurred in eastern al-Shuja’iyia neighborhood and resulted the wounding of 43 civilians. Among the wounded persons, 32 were hit with live bullets and the rest were hit with tear gas canisters.
- Central Gaza Strip: incidents occurred in eastern al-Buriej camp and resulted in the wounding of 13 civilians, including 2 children and a woman. One of those wounded sustained serious wounds. Among the wounded persons, 11 were hit with live bullets and 2 were hit with tear gas canisters.
- Khan Yunis City: incidents occurred in eastern Khuza’ah and resulted in the wounding of 30 civilians, including 4 children and 32 paramedics. Three of those wounded sustained serious wounds. Among the wounded persons, 13 were hit with live bullets and 7 were directly hit with tear gas canisters.
- Rafah City: further to those killed, incidents occurred in eastern Rafah and resulted in the wounding of 25 civilians, including 9 children and 2 journalists. Three of those wounded sustained serious wounds. Among the wounded persons, 18 were hit with live bullets and 7 were directly hit with tear gas canisters. Moreover, an ambulance belonging to the Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) was directly hit with live bullets.
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 staffers, especially those working in the field, and ambulances 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 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 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.