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68th Great March of Return: 71 Civilians Injured, Including 30 Children, 3 Women and  Paramedic by Israeli Forces


Ref: 91/2019

On the 68th Great March of Return, 71 Palestinian civilians were injured due to the Israeli military’s continued use of excessive force against peaceful protests along the Gaza Strip’s eastern border. At least 30 children, 3 women and a paramedic were among those injured this Friday, 26 July 2019. Thirty-nine civilians were shot with live bullets and 4 of them sustained moderate to serious wounds.


Today’s protest, which lasted from 16:30 to 19:30, was titled “Palestinians Refugees of Lebanon”, and involved activities such as speeches by political leaders and theatrical performances. Dozens of civilians protested at varied distances from the border fence across the Gaza Strip, and were met with Israeli soldiers’ excessive force despite no imminent threat to the soldiers’ lives.


Despite reports that the Israeli military changed their open-fire strategy against the Great March of Return protesters and ordered soldiers to aim at their ankles;[1] PCHR’s fieldworkers documented the injury of many protesters in their upper extremities, including 4 that sustained moderate to serious wounds. As such, this asserts Israel’s relentless insistence on the unjustified policy of using excessive force.


In this context, the Israeli news site Ynet revealed on Tuesday, 23 July 2019, that over the past months, the Israeli forces have been trained along the Gaza Strip borders on a new sniper weapon.[2]  This means that the Israeli military uses the protests of the Great March of Return as firing ranges to test its weapons, in clear disregard for the value of human life and in violation of international human rights law and international humanitarian law.


To this date, PCHR documented 207 killings by Israel since the outbreak of the protests on 30 March 2018, including 44 children, 2 women, 9 persons with disabilities, 4 paramedics, and 2 journalists. Additionally, 13,323 were wounded, including 2,742 children, 409 women, 221 paramedics and 207 journalists.  Among those wounded, PCHR documented cases where 196 persons have become with disabilities, including 28 children and 5 women, and were as follows: 149 amputees; 21 paralyzed, 26 blind or deaf and 9 sexually disabled.


The following is a summary of today’s incidents along the Gaza Strip border:


Northern Gaza Strip: 1500 protesters participated in Abu Safiyah area protests, northeast of Jabalia; only tens approached the border fence and threw stones. Israeli forces, stationed along the fence, fired live and rubber bullets as well as teargas canisters at the protesters. As a result, 11 of them were injured, including 5 children and a woman: 8, including the 5 children, were shot with live bullets; and 3, including a woman, with rubber bullets.  The live bullet injuries were mainly in the lower limbs while those with rubber bullets were shot in their upper extremities.


Gaza City: Protests set off Malakah area, east of al-Zaytoun neighborhood in eastern Gaza City. A few youngsters approached the border and threw stones at soldiers using slingshots. Israeli soldiers’ attacks against the protesters resulted in the injury of 8 civilians, including 2 children, a woman, and a paramedic: 3 were shot with live bullets and 5 with rubber bullets. The wounded paramedic, Ibrahim Jamil Jamous (31) was hit with a rubber bullet in his right hand.

Central Gaza Strip: hundreds of civilians, including women, children and families, took part in the eastern Bureij refugee camp protests, where there was a sit-in in solidarity with the journalists wounded last Friday. Hundreds approached the border fence at a range varying between 3 – 300 meters, and some of them attempted to throw stones at Israeli soldiers with slingshots. The Israeli soldiers fired live and rubber bullets in addition to teargas canisters at the protesters, wounding 18 civilians, including 9 children and a woman: 13 were shot with live bullets and shrapnel, 2 were directly hit with teargas canisters and 3 were shot with rubber bullets.


Khan Younis: protests took place in Khuza’a, where only few protestors set tires on fire. Due to the Israeli shooting, 13 civilians were injured, including 6 children: 11 were shot with live bullets and shrapnel and 2 were directly hit with a tear gas canister and a live bullet. Three of those wounded sustained moderate to serious wounds: a 22-year-old was hit with a live bullet to the abdomen, 32-year-old was wounded in the right side of his abdomen, and a 26-year-old was hit with a live bullet to the pelvis.  The three of them were wounded while present 100 meters away from the border fence.  Further, dozens of civilians, including journalists and paramedics, suffocated due to teargas inhalation. Later that evening, at approximately, 19:00, as the protests almost finished, at least 10 young men approached the border fence and attempted to cross it; some of them managed cross.  The Israeli forces chased the infiltrators and released police dogs towards them, biting two, including a 12-year-old child.  All of them managed to flee back into the Gaza Strip and received treatment at a medical point.


Rafah: Around 1400 civilians participated in the eastern Shokah protests, where folklore shows, and speeches were held. Dozens approached the border fence and threw stones. The Israeli soldiers used live and rubber bullets and teargas canisters against the protestors. As a result, 21 civilians were injured, including 8 children: 8 wounded in the upper part of their bodies. Ten of those wounded were shot with live bullets and shrapnel, 7 shot with rubber bullets and 4 were hit with tear gas canisters. Mohammed Fathi Qeshtah (25) sustained serious wounds after being hit with a live bullet to the abdomen.

[1] Jerusalem Post, 25 July 2019: https://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/IDF-orders-snipers-to-aim-for-ankles-of-Gazan-protesters-596784

[2] ALQUDS Newspaper, 23 July 2019: ، http://www.alquds.com/articles/1563862372649563900/

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