On Friday afternoon, 02 November 2018, Israeli forces wounded 52 Palestinian civilians, including 6 children, 1 woman, and 2 being seriously wounded, in the peaceful demonstrations in eastern Gaza Strip despite the decreasing intensity of the demonstrations there and absence of many means usually used during the demonstrations since the beginning of the Return and Breaking the Siege March 7 months ago.
According to observations by PCHR’s fieldworkers, for the first time since the beginning of the Return March on 30 March 2018, the demonstrators abstained from setting fire to tires while almost completely the attempts to cross the border fence and throw stones and incendiary balloons were absent.
Though the demonstrations were around tens of meters away from the border fence, the Israeli forces who were stationed in sniper positions and military jeeps along the fence continued to open fire and fire teargas canisters at the demonstrators. The fieldworkers noticed that the Israeli forces exceedingly decreased opening fire at the demonstrators and activated the use of rubber bullets, but heavily fired teargas canisters, causing hundreds teargas inhalation. Moreover, some of those canisters reached the vicinity of the two field medical points in Khan Younis and al-Bureij refugee camps.
The relatively calm incidents translate the outcome of the Egyptian security delegation’s meeting with the Palestinian factions and Supreme National Authority of Great March of Return and Breaking the Siege which emphasized in a statement following the meeting held yesterday afternoon, 01 November 2018, in Gaza “the importance of maintaining the peaceful and popular nature of the demonstrations and their means that promote the national revitalization.”
The Supreme National Authority also addressed the demonstrators to take all necessary measures to prevent and fail any opportunity for the Israeli snipers to target any of the peaceful demonstrators.”
On 02 November 2018, the incidents were as follows:
At approximately 14:30, thousands of civilians, including women, children and entire families, started swarming to the five encampments established by the Supreme National Authority of Great March of Return and Breaking the Siege adjacent to the border fence with Israel in eastern Gaza Strip cities and raised flags, chanted national songs in addition to organizing sportive and folklore performances inside the encampments and its yards. Hundreds, including children and women, approached the border fence with Israel in front of each tent and gathered tens of meters away from the main border fence. Unlike what was going weekly, setting fire to tires and stone-throwing were almost absent, except in very limited cases. Moreover, no infiltration of the border fence was reported. In general, the demonstrators gathered in places open to the Israeli snipers , who were stationed on the top of the sand berms, military watchtowers and in or behind the jeeps. Despite the prevailing calmness, the Israeli forces fired live bullets less frequently than in the past weeks, and activated the use of rubber bullets in addition to firing hundreds of teargas canisters even at the encampments and near the medical points.
The Israeli shooting, which continued at around 18:00, resulted in the injury of 52 Palestinian civilians, including 6 children, 1 woman and 2 sustaining serious wounds. Among those wounded, 27 were wounded with live bullets or their shrapnel, 8 were wounded with rubber bullets, and 17 were hit directly with tear gas canisters that were fired by the Israeli forces from the military jeeps or riffles in the eastern Gaza strip.
The following table shows the number of civilian victims during the Israeli forces’ suppression of the Great March of Return since its beginning on 30 March
|Among those Killed, there were 5 Persons with Disabilities and a girl.||3||2||1||33||170||Killed|
|Among those wounded, 495 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.||128||116||253||1609||9187||Wounded|
PCHR hereby emphasizes that Palestinians’ right to peaceful assembly guaranteed by all international human rights instruments and stresses that the Israeli forces should stop the use of excessive force and respond to the legitimate right of the demonstrators, particularly with regard to ending the closure which is the genuine solution for ending a humanitarian catastrophe in the Gaza Strip.
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 hereby condemns the excessive use of force and commission of crimes by the Israeli forces despite the prevailed calmness, 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 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.