On Friday afternoon, 11 January 2019, Israeli forces Killed a 45-year-old Palestinian woman and wounded 128 Civilians, including 14 Children, 3 women, 2 Journalists and 2 Paramedics, in an excessive use of force against the peaceful demonstrators in the eastern Gaza Strip though the demonstrations have scaled down for the eleventh week consecutively and despite absence of most means usually used during the demonstrations since the beginning of the Return and Breaking the Siege March 9 months ago.
According to observations by PCHR’s fieldworkers, Though the demonstrators were around between tens and hundreds of meters away from the border fence, the Israeli forces who stationed in prone positions and in military jeeps along the fence continued to use excessive force against the demonstrators by opening fire and firing teargas canisters at them. As a result, many of the demonstrators were hit with bullets and teargas canisters to their head without posing any imminent threat or danger to the life of soldiers.
According to PCHR’s documentation, This woman is the third among females killed by the Israeli forces during her participation in the March of Return as the Israeli forces killed the female Paramedic, Rozan al-Najjar (21) in eastern Khan Younis and the 14-year-old girl Wisal al-Sheikh Khalil in eastern al-Bureij.
Before the demonstrators completely withdrew from the Demonstration locations, the Israeli forces had targeted 2 border control checkpoints; one of them was only tens of meters away from the medical tent in eastern Khuza’ah while the other was in eastern Malaka area, east of al-Shija’iyah neighborhood in eastern Gaza. As a result, both checkpoints were destroyed while no casualties were reported.
On 11 January 2019, 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. 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, attempting to throw stones at the Israeli forces. Although the demonstrators gathered in areas open to the Israeli snipers stationed on the top of the sand berms and military watchtowers and inside and behind the military jeeps, the Israeli forces fired live and rubber bullets in addition to barrages of teargas canisters. The Israeli shooting, which continued at around 17:30, resulted in the killing of Amal Mustafa al-Termasi (45) from al-Sheikh Redwan neighborhood with a bullet to the head at approximately 15:50 when she was 200 meters away to the west of the border fence during her participation in the demonstration in Malaka area, east of al-Shja’iyah neighborhood.
Moreover, the Israeli shooting and teargas firing resulted in the injury of 128 Civilians, including 14 Children, 3 women, 2 Journalists and 2 paramedics. In addition, hundreds suffered tear gas inhalation and seizures due to tear gas canisters fired by the Israeli forces from the military jeeps and riffles in the eastern Gaza Strip. Further, One of the bullets fired by the Israeli forces hit an ambulance belonging to the Ministry of Health in eastern Rafah City, resulting in damage to the back window.
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 8 Persons with Disabilities and a girl.||3||2||1||35||181||Killed|
|Among those wounded, 513 are in serious condition and 101 had their lower or upper limbs amputated; 89 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 bullets and directly hit with tear gas canisters as there have been thousand others who suffered tear gas inhalation and sustained bruises.||163||142||299||1857||10,257||Wounded|
PCHR emphasizes Palestinians’ right to peaceful assembly that is guaranteed by all International human rights instruments, stressing that the Israeli forces should stop using excessive force and respond to the legitimate demands of the demonstrators, particularly lifting the closure which is the real solution to end the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip.
PCHR emphasizes that targeting the medical personnel and ambulances is a serious violation of the rules of international human rights law and international humanitarian law, whose International standards regulate the protection of medical personnel, including ambulance crews, vehicles and medical facilities. These serious violations practiced and deliberate attacks against the medical personnel amount to war crimes according to the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention, particularly the protection provided for by the Convention.
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.