In New Crime of Excessive Use of Lethal Force against Peaceful Protesters in Gaza Strip, Israeli Forces Go too Far in Their Crimes, Killing Volunteer Paramedic and Wounding 68 Civilians, including 7 Paramedics, 8 Children and 2 Journalists
Date: 01 June 2018
Time: 20:00 GMT
On Friday, 01 June 2018, using excessive lethal forces against the peaceful protesters in eastern Gaza Strip for the 10th Friday in a row, Israeli forces killed a volunteer paramedic and wounded 68 other civilians, including 7 paramedics, 8 children, and 2 journalists. PCHR strongly condemns the crime of killing a Civil Defense paramedic and wounding 223 members of the medical personnel, including 29 paramedics with live bullets or due to tear gas inhalation, since the beginning of the March of Return demonstrations on March 30. This high number of casualties among the medical personnel proves there is an Israeli systematic policy of targeting the medical personnel while carrying out their humanitarian duty.
PCHR emphasizes that upon a decision by the highest political and military echelons, the Israeli forces continued to use excessive force against the peaceful protesters, who posed no threat to the life of the soldiers.
Table of Civilian Casualties due to the Israeli Suppression since the Beginning of the Great March of Return on 30 March
|Among those Killed, there are 2 Persons with Disabilities; moreover, there are 15 persons killed and PCHR is still investigating the circumstances of their deaths in the Eastern cemetery on 14 May 2018||1||2||1||14||98||Killed|
|Among those wounded, 286 in serious condition and 32 had their lower or upper limbs amputated||230||58||87||877||5260||Wounded|
Investigations and observations by PCHR’s fieldworkers during this week emphasize the following:
- Dozens of Israeli Forces’ snipers continued to position on the hills, behind the sand barriers and in military jeeps along the border fence in front of the peaceful demonstrations in the eastern Gaza Strip.
- According to PCHR’s fieldworkers, the number of youth gatherings near the border fence augmented to reach dozens who set fire to tires and attempted to throw stones at the Israeli forces.
- The Israeli snipers deliberately and selectively opened fire at the participants in the peaceful demonstrations which included thousands of civilians in different areas in the eastern Gaza Strip.
- The Israeli forces continued to target the medical personnel directly and deliberately as they wounded 7 of them; most of them in eastern Khan Younis. Moreover, an ambulance sustained damage. PCHR emphasizes that the medical personnel members, means of medical transport, and field hospitals were distinctively marked and easily identified as the medical personnel was wearing their distinctive medical uniform while the ambulances were marked with the PRCS and ICRC insignias in addition to the clear badges on the field hospitals. Despite all of this, they were under the Israeli forces’ attacks.
- The Israeli forces widely used bursts of tear gas canisters and from drones, targeting the center of the demonstrations and near the demonstrators near the border fence. As a result, many civilians were directly targeted and hit with tear gas canisters, causing serious injuries, while the gas coming of them made hundreds, including PCHR’s fieldworkers who were documenting the incidents, suffer tear gas inhalation, fainting and seizures. Some of them were transferred to hospitals, including few so far receive medical treatment.
- The demonstrations were as always fully peaceful, and PCHR’s fieldworkers did not witness weapons or armed persons even dressed in civilian clothes among the demonstrators, who were thousands of elderlies, women, children and entire families, demonstrating near the border fence and raising flags, chanting slogans and national songs, flying kites and burning tires.
- Journalists were again targeted with tear gas canisters, wounding a number of them in eastern Gaza and al-Bureij refugee camp.
- The Israeli unjustified and fallacious incitement against the peaceful demonstrations and encampments continues, perceiving the demonstration itself as danger. This hereby violates the right to peaceful assembly codified in all International instruments.
The incidents today, 01 June 2018, were as follows:
At approximately 16:00, hundreds of civilians, including women, children and elderlies within entire families, started swarming to 5 encampments established by the Supreme National Authority for the Great March of Return and Breaking Siege in eastern Rafah City; Khuza’ah in Khan Younis; al-Bureij in the Central Gaza Strip; Shija’eyah neighborhood in Gaza City; and eastern Jabalia in the northern Gaza Strip.
The number of participants gradually increased, reaching a peak at approximately 17:00, in the five demonstration areas, and they were estimated at thousands of men, elderlies, women and children. They were inside and outside the encampment yards, raising flags, and chanting slogans and national songs in addition to flying kites, while hundreds of them, including children and women, approached the border fence, set fire to tires and attempted to throw stones at the Israeli forces.
The Israeli shooting, which continued until 19:30, resulted in the killing of Razan Ashraf al-Najjar (21), a volunteer paramedic from Khuza’ah in eastern Khan Younis working for the Medical Relief Society after being shot with a bullet that entered her chest and exited her back at approximately 18:30. She was wounded along with 2 of her colleagues identified as Rami Nahro Mohammed Abu Jazar (29), who was wounded with a bullet to the left leg and shrapnel to the right leg and left hand, and Mahmoud Fathi ‘Abdel ‘Aati (38) who was wounded with shrapnel to the left leg when they all were 100 meters away from the border fence, northwest of the Return camp in eastern Khzua’ah, helping 2 persons wounded. Doctors declared death of Razan at approximately 19:00 after her arrival at the Gaza European Hospital in Khan Younis, noting that Razan had been present since the first day of the Return camp opening and worked as a volunteer almost daily evacuating and helping dozens of civilians wounded.
Moreover, 68 civilians in the eastern Gaza demonstration areas were wounded with live bullets and direct hits of tear gas canisters, including 8 children, 7 paramedics and 2 journalists. In addition, hundreds suffered tear gas inhalation and seizures after Israeli forces fired tear gas canisters.
PCHR condemns this new crime 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 different attacks against the Palestinian medical personnel, especially those working in the field, constitute a serious violation of the international human rights and humanitarian laws and the international standards regulating the protection rules of medical personnel, including paramedics, their vehicles and medical facilities. The serious violations and deliberate attacks against the medical personnel amount to war crimes according to the 1949 fourth Geneva Convention, particularly the scope of protection provided to them.
PCHR emphasizes that continuously inflicting casualties, either killed or wounded, is unjustified and targeting and killing civilians, who exercise their right to peaceful assembly or while carrying out their humanitarian duty, using lethal force is a serious violation of the rules of intentional law and international humanitarian law.
PCHR emphasizes that the demonstrations are fully peaceful and civilians have the right to raise their voices against the Israeli forces and closure and enjoy their right to return. Thus, PCHR stresses that Israel shall be held accountable and prosecuted through investigating with it into these crimes.
PCHR also stresses that this ongoing policy by Israel violates the Rome STATUTE OF THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT (ICC) and Fourth Geneva Convention, and its practices qualify to war crimes. Thus, PCHR calls upon the ICC Prosecutor to open an official investigation into these crimes in addition to prosecuting and holding accountable all of those involved in issuing decisions and orders in the Israeli forces at the political and security level and those applying the orders.
PCHR asks for the presence of international observers from the United Nations (UN) bodies in the Gaza Strip to make sure that these demonstrations are totally peaceful and even if the Israeli authorities denied their access to Gaza, they can observe from the Israeli side of the borders.
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.
PCHR calls for the prompt formation of an intentional commission of inquiry according to the UN Human Rights Council to investigate the crimes committed by the Israeli forces against unarmed civilians in the Return March activities.