Mahmoud Khaled Mahmoud Abed Nabi in front
of his family home in the Jabaliya refugee camp

 

On 30 March 2012, Palestinians around the
world marked Land Day, commemorating the 1976 killing of 6 Palestinians
protesting against land confiscation by the Israeli authorities.  Across occupied Palestine, thousands of
civilians held peaceful protests, which were responded to with excessive use of
force by Israeli occupation forces. In the Gaza Strip, one civilian protester,
Mahmoud Mohammed Zaqout, 19, was killed, and 38 others were wounded, including
16 children. In similar protests throughout the West Bank, 25 civilians,
including 2 children, were wounded.

 

“I put the Palestinian flag in the fence
and when I got down from the fence I was shot in the chest. The bullet entered
on the left of my chest and exited from my right side. It was fired from a watchtower
in the fence,” recalls Mahmoud Khaled Mahmoud Abed Nabi, 20, one of the
demonstrators who was shot when Israeli forces responded with live fire during
a protest at the BeitHanoun checkpoint, located on the border between Israel
and the Gaza Strip.

 

“I had been to demonstrations before,
marking different events,” Mahmoud says. “Land Day is a very important day
because we have to defend our lands, which continue to be occupied by Israel.
We have to sacrifice to protect them,” he continues. “All the young people were
going to the area to protest, because it is such a well-known day, even
internationally. I marched with others and went beyond where the Gazan
authorities were stopping people, and we headed towards the border.” 

 

Mahmoud describes what happened after he
and the others reached inside the Beit Hanoun checkpoint. “We were holding
flags and throwing stones. Along with dozens of others, I reached the concrete
blocks and barbed wire which the army had put approximately 40 meters away from
the fence. The soldiers shot tear gas canisters at us and shouted threats
through the loudspeakers in the watchtowers. Then they started firing bullets
directly at us. There were no warning shots,” Mahmoud remembers.

 

“The soldiers were shooting a few
protesters at a time. The injured were transported out of the area by
motorbike,” he says. The cement blocks and barbed wires on the road made it
impossible for ambulances to reach the area. “I saw about eight people getting
injured before I was shot myself. Four of the wounded were shot by soldiers in
the watchtower while they were close to the fence, like me.”

 

Mahmoud says his injuries were serious and
explains how his family cannot carry the financial burden of his medical costs.
“I am still in pain and my situation is not improving. The bullet passed near
my heart. The doctor told me to take antibiotics, but those cost 100-120
shekels, which our family cannot afford. These medicines are also not available
for supply at UNRWA. I have started getting infections in the wound. The pain I
feel worsens at night or when I walk. I have difficulty breathing and throw up
blood sometimes.”

 

Mahmoud lives in a small house in Jabaliya
refugee camp, together with his parents, four brothers and two sisters. The
family’s dire financial situation is compounded by the injuries to Mahmoud’s
two older brothers, Mohammed, 22, and Iyad, 25, which prevent them from
working. Mohammed was severely injured in the chest and lungs when Israeli
forces  targeted him and a friend while
they were gathering wood during the ’08-’09 military offensive against the Gaza
Strip. Iyad was shot in the side by Israeli Naval Forces while working in the
tunnel area south of Rafah town. Neither of them has fully recovered from their
injuries. The father of the family provides a small income by transporting
items on his horse cart one or two days a week. Mahmoud is pessimistic about
the future and his ability to contribute to the household income: “I don’t have
a future because I cannot work in this condition. I used to have occasional
work, for example in construction, but until now I am not able to do anything
because of the pain,” he says, frustrated.

 

Israeli forces continue to use excessive
force against demonstrators across the occupied Palestinian territory. Measures
of force applied by the army include firing live and rubber-coated metal
bullets, tear gas canisters and sound bombs at the demonstrators. In 2011, two
Palestinian civilians were killed and 163 others were
wounded as a result. These acts constitute a violation of the right to life,
stipulated in Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political
Rights; the willful killing of civilians constitutes a war crime under Article
147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.