Friday, 17 August 2018, using excessive lethal force against the peaceful protesters in eastern Gaza Strip for the 21st Friday in a row, Israeli forces killed 2 Palestinian civilians and wounded 144 others, including 27 children, 4 women and 3 paramedics. Durng this week, the Israeli forces continued to target medical personnel working in the field, wounding 3 of them. Moreover, an ambulance sustained damage in eastern Jabalia, 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.
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||130||23||1||2||3||Among those Killed there are 3 Persons with Disabilities (Deaf)|
|Injuries||6715||1134||197||78||100||Among those wounded, 417 are in serious condition and 69 persons’ lower or upper limbs were amputated. Statistics of the injured only include those directly hit with tear gas canisters as there are thousands of civilians suffered|
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, 17 August 2018, were as follows:
At apprximately 15:00, 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.
The Israeli shooting, which continued until 19:30, resulted in the killing of 2 civilians, one of them was wounded in eastern al-Buraij refugee camp and the other in eastern Rafah. Those civilians killed were identified as:
- Sa’adi Akram Ahmed Abu Mo’amer (27), from Rafah, was hit with a live bullet to the head at approximately 18:30, when he was around 100-150 meters away from the border fence, east of Rafah. At approximately 19:00, his death was announced at Gaza European Hospital in Khan Younis.
- Kareem Ahmed ‘Ali Abu Fatayer (28), from Deir al-Balah, was hit with a live bullet to the head at approximately 17:30, when he was around 300 meters away from the border fence near Abu Hasaniyah Hill, east of al-Buraij refugee camp. His death was announced after half an hour of his arrival at al-Aqsa Hospital.
Moreover, 144 civilians, including 27 children, 4 women and 3 paramedics, were wounded with live bullets and direct hits of tear gas canisters fired by Israeli forces. In addition, dozens of civilians suffered tear gas inhalation and seizures after tear gas canisters were heavily fired by the Israeli soldiers stationed in military vehicles and by drones hovering over the protesters in the eastern Gaza Strip.
PCHR hereby condemns these crimes 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.