Ref: 113/2018

On Friday, 19 October 2018, in excessive use of force against peaceful protesters on the 30th Friday of the March of Return and Breaking the Siege, Israeli forces wounded 275 Palestinian civilians, including 49 children, 3 women, 3 journalists and 4 paramedics, with live bullets and directly hit teargas canisters in eastern Gaza Strip.  Ten of those wounded sustained serious wounds.

According to the fieldworkers of Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) during the reporting period, in light of wide-scale incitement by the Israeli highest military and political echelons against the protests and giving them a lead time until today to end them, the Israeli forces intensified the use of excessive force against the peaceful demonstrators though the organizers of the protests and Palestinian factions called for “maintaining the peaceful and popular nature of the protests and their tools” in addition to demanding “to take all measures to prevent and fail any opportunity for the Israeli snipers to take down the protestors.”

 

PCHR’s investigations and fieldworkers’ observations emphasize that the Israeli forces heavily opened fire at the protestors, inflicting many casualties.  Though no killings were reported, there were 10 persons seriously wounded.  Moreover, though limited attempts to approach the border fence were reported in the demonstration areas, there was no imminent threat posed to the life of the Israeli soldiers and the protests were totally peaceful.  PCHR’s fieldworkers did not witness any armed manifestations while the Israeli soldiers continued to position on the top of sand berms and hills, in military jeeps and tanks along the border fence.

 

This proves that Israeli forces continue to use excessive force against the protestors upon highest Israeli military and political echelons despite no danger or threat posed to the life of Israeli soldiers.

 

It should be mentioned that before the protests started today, the Israeli forces deployed large forces and tanks along the security border fence with the Gaza Strip and adjacent to residential areas in the vicinity of the Gaza Strip.

The incidents today, 19 October  2018, were as follows:

At approximately 15:00, thousands of civilians, including women, children and entire families, started swarming to the 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 governorates. They raised flags and chanted national songs. Hundreds, including children and women, approached the border fence with Israel, set fire to tires and gathered 300 meters away from the main border fence. Some of them attempted to throw stones at the Israeli forces, limitedly threw Molotov Cocktails and pulled parts of the second barbed-wire few meters away from the fence established inside the Palestinian territories few meters away from the border fence and in limited cases, they threw Molotov Cocktails along the border fence. However, there was no threat posed on the lives of Israeli soldiers stationed behind barracks and sand berms, 70 meters away the border fence.

 

The Israeli shooting, which continued until 18:30, resulted in the injury of  275 civilians, including 49 children, 3 women, 3 journalists and 4 paramedics, were hit with live bullets and direct tear gas canisters. Ten of those wounded sustained serious wounds in addition dozens suffering tear gas inhalation and seizures after tear gas canisters were heavily fired by the Israeli soldiers from the military jeeps and riffles in the eastern Gaza Strip.

Moreover, at approximately 17:25, an Israeli drone launched 2 missiles at civilians in an olive field that is around 800 meters away to the west of the Return encampment in Khuza’ah in eastern Khan Younis.  As a result, 4 civilians were wounded.

 

Table of Civilian Casualties due to the Israeli Suppression since the Beginning of the Great March of Return on 30 March

 

Notes Medical Crews Journalists Women Children Total Casualties
Among those Killed, there are 5 Persons with Disabilities and a girl 3 2 1 33 163 Killed
Among those wounded, 479 are in serious condition and 76 had their lower or upper limbs amputated.  The number of those wounded only include those wounded with live bullet and directly hit with tear gas canisters as there have been thousand others who suffered tear gas inhalation. 122 110 238 1521 8770 Wounded

 

PCHR hereby condemns the 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 targeting civilians, who exercise their right to peaceful assembly or while carrying out their humanitarian duty, is a serious violation of the rules of international law, international humanitarian law, the ICC Rome Statute and Fourth Geneva Convention. Thus, PCHR calls upon the ICC Prosecutor to open an official investigation in these crimes and to prosecute and hold accountable all those applying or involved in issuing orders within the Israeli Forces at the security 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.