On Friday afternoon, 16 November 2018, Israeli forces wounded 54 Palestinian civilians, including 11 children, 1 woman and 4 paramedics in the peaceful demonstrations in the eastern Gaza Strip despite the decreasing intensity of the demonstrations there for the third week consecutively and absence of most 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 third week since the beginning of the Return March on 30 March 2018, the demonstrators abstained from setting fire to tires while the attempts to cross the border fence and throw stones and incendiary balloons were completely absent. Moreover, throwing stones and Molotov cocktails decreased and in Khan Younis the demonstrators did not cross what is known as “Jakar” Street while in other areas crossed only few meters.
Though the demonstrators were around tens of meters away from the border fence, the Israeli forces who stationed in sniper positions and military jeeps along the fence continued to use excessive force against the demonstrators by opening fire and firing teargas canisters at them, without the later posing any imminent threat or danger to the life of soldiers.
It should be noted that the demonstrations were preceded by Israeli forces’ wide threats as Kamil Abu Rukun, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), published a video in which he threatened to use force against the demonstrators and anyone who approaches within 100 meters of the fence, tries to cross it, or throws indelicacy balloons and will put himself at risk. The same threats were also repeated by the Spokesperson of the Israeli Forces, Avichay Adraee.
On 16 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 encampment and gathered tens of meters away from the main border fence. Further, setting fire to tires, throwing stones, incendiary balloons and Molotov cocktails were almost absent. 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 and rubber bullets in addition to hundreds of teargas canisters, particualry in eastern Jabalia, Gaza and al-Bureij refugee camp.
The Israeli shooting, which continued at around 17:30, resulted in the injury of 54 Palestinian civilians, including 11 children, 1 woman and 4 paramedics a. In addition, hundreds suffered tear gas inhalation and seizures due to tear gas canisters that were fired by the Israeli forces from the military jeeps and riffles in the eastern Gaza strip.
The following table shows the number of civilian victims due to the Israeli forces’ suppression of the Great March of Return since its beginning on 30 March
|Among those Killed, there were 6 Persons with Disabilities and a girl.||3||2||1||33||175||Killed|
|Among those wounded, 500 are in serious condition and 82 had their lower or upper limbs amputated; 49 lower-limb amputations, 2 upper-limb amputations, 10 finger amputations and 17 children had their limbs amputated according to the Ministry of Health. 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 and sustained bruises.||137||118||256||1685||9423||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.