For Fifth Friday of Great March of Return and Breaking Siege in Gaza Strip, Israeli Forces Continue to Use Lethal Force against Palestinian Peaceful Civilians 3 Civilians Killed, and 453 Others Wounded, including 69 Children, 14 Women, 6 Journalists and 5 Paramedics, and Death Toll Rises to 39, including 4 Children and 2 Journalists within 29 Days
Date: 27 April 2018
Time: 19:00 GMT
On Friday, 27 April 2018, Israeli forces killed 3 Palestinian civilians and wounded 453 others with live bullets or directly hit with tear gas canisters, including 69 children, 14 women, 6 journalists and 5 paramedics, in addition to hundreds suffering tear gas inhalation, including PCHR’s fieldworkers who were documenting the Israeli forces’ suppression of the entirely peaceful demonstrations near the border fence with Israel, east of the Gaza Strip. For the fifth week in a row and upon a decision by the Israeli highest military and political echelons, the Israeli forces used lethal force against the peaceful demonstrators, who posed no threat to the soldiers’ life. Thus, the death toll has risen to 39, including 4 children, 2 journalists and 2 persons with disabilities, and the number of those wounded has risen to 2900, including 490 children, 83 women, 38 journalists and 18 paramedics, since 30 March.
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.
- The demonstrations witnessed an increase in the number of participants during this day particularly after 16:00 as their number was estimated at ten thousands of participants, including women, children, elderlies and entire families, in 5 main points where the March of Return demonstrations were set.
- According to the fieldworker’s eye witnessing, at approximately 17:00, under a huge Palestinian flag and amidst the sound of Scouts’ drums, hundreds approached at a close range from the border fence in eastern Khan Younis, and the Israeli forces heavily targeted them with live fire and tear gas canisters. As a result, one of the civilians was killed while others were wounded. Moreover, dozens of women and civilians shouting national slogans were hit with tear gas canisters, noting they were standing on the sand barriers which are around 260 meters away from the border fence.
- The Israeli snipers deliberately and selectively opened fire at the participants in the peaceful demonstrations which included thousands of civilians in 5 areas in the eastern Gaza Strip. As a result, 3 civilians were killed and 453 others, including 69 children, 14 women, 6 journalists and 5 paramedics, were wounded with live bullets and direct hits of tear gas canisters, noting that most injuries occur in the demonstration area that is around 30-300 meters away from the border fence while many injuries among the demonstrators were reported along the border fence, east of Gaza and Jabalia.
- 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. Those demonstrators moved forward until in certain instances, particularly in eastern Gaza City, Jabalia and Khan Younis, reached the border fence raising flags, chanting slogans and national songs, flying kites in high and burning tires. Meanwile in other demonstrations, there were folklore, sportive and Scout performances in addition to women’s gatherings. However, the demonstrators were under the Israeli fire.
- PCHR’s fieldworkers observations undoubtedly refute the Israeli government and some media’s claims that children are used as human shields by the demonstrators. This refusal was based on the totally peaceful nature of the demonstrations, participation of entire families, including their children, and some women and children’s offering water for the demonstrators and raising flags with no influence from any political party encouraging them to do so.
- The Israeli forces widely used bursts of tear gas canisters targeting the center of the demonstrations and the demonstrators near the border fence. As a result, hundreds, including PCHR’s fieldworkers who were documenting the incidents, suffered tear gas inhalation and seizure ; some of them were transferred to hospitals as a number of them still receive medical treatment.
- The Israeli forces twice fired many tear gas canisters which fell near the field clinic in eastern Bureij refugee camp, noting the clinic is 450 meters away from the border fence. As a result, the medical crews suffered tear gas inhalation and their work was disrupted. Moreover, 5 paramedics were directly hit with tear gas canisters while on duty to rescue and evacuate those wounded in the demonstrations in eastern Gaza, Khan Younis and al-Bureij.
- Journalists were again directly targeted resulting in the injury of 6 journalists with direct live bullets or tear gas canisters though most of them were wearing their PRESS-marked vests.
- PCHR’s investigations point out that 2 of those killed were directly shot to the head and neck while the third was shot to the abdomen in addition to the other injuries that were mainly in the head, neck, back, chest, abdomen and limbs. Moreover, there are 13 civilians in critical condition, including a 15-year-old child from Khan Younis hit with a live bullet to the head, portending that the death toll would rise in any moment.
- PCHR’s fieldworkers noticed that the Israeli shooting and teargasing at the protesters intensified randomly when dozens of demonstrators could approach or reach in some instances the border fence or even managed to pull parts of the second barbed wires placed inside the Palestinian territories around 50 meters away from the main border fence. As a result, many injuries were reported particularly in eastern Khan Younis, Gaza and Jabalia.
- The Israeli incitement against the peaceful demonstrations and encampments continues as extension of previous statements by Israeli political and military officials threatening to inflect deaths and injuries among the demonstrators in addition to perceiving the demonstration itself as danger. This hereby violates the right to peaceful assembly codified in all International instruments.
The incidents today, 27 April 2018, were as follows:
Since early morning, ten thousands of civilians, including women and children within entire families, started swarming to 5 encampments set 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 Central Gaza Strip; Sheja’eyah neighborhood in Gaza City; and Eastern Jabalia in the northern Gaza Strip.
Following the Friday Prayer, at approximately 13:30, the number of participants in the five demonstrations increased, reaching to hundred thousands of men, elderlies, women and children. They deployed inside and outside the encampments yards, raised flags, and chanted 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 20:00 according to PCHR’s fieldworkers in the 5 areas, resulted in the killing of 3 Palestinian civilians; 2 of them from Gaza City were directly hit with live bullets at approximately 17:00 when dozens of demonstrators approached the border fence in eastern Sheja’iyah neighborhood.
Those killed were identified as:
- Khalil Na’im Mustafa ‘Atallah (22) from Gaza City was hit with shrapnel to the abdomen and a bullet to the neck when he was along the border fence, east of Sheja’iyah neighborhood in Gaza City;
Mohammed Amin Ahmed al-Moqayad (21) from Gaza City was hit with a bullet to the head when he was along the border fence, east of Sheja’iyah neighborhood in Gaza City; and
- ‘Abdel Salam ‘Eid Zuhri Baker (33) from Khan Younis refugee camp was hit with a bullet to the abdomen at approximately 17:30 when he was 50 meters away from the border fence, east of Khuza’ah
Moreover, 453 others were wounded, including 69 children, 14 women, 6 journalists and 5 paramedics, in addition to hundreds suffering tear gas inhalation, including PCHR’s fieldworkers while documenting the Israeli forces’ suppression of the entirely peaceful demonstrations.
Table of Civilians Killed and Wounded during the Last Five Weeks in These Activities
|Among those killed were 2 persons with disabilities (deaf)||–||2||–||4||39||Killed|
|Among those wounded, 161 are in serious condition and 21 underwent amputation of their lower or upper limbs||18||83||83||490||2900||Wounded|
PCHR emphasizes that the rules of international law, including the international human rights law and international humanitarian law, shall be applied when dealing with the peaceful demonstrations along the Gaza Strip borders. Thus, PCHR stresses that the occupation has an international obligation to apply the Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials.
Principles on the Use of firearms stipulate that soldiers should not use live fire unless their life is under imminent threat and the shooting must be gradual and proportionate with the threat. First, the soldiers shall give a warning and not in any case use live bullets, except as a last option to defend themselves or others in cases of imminent threat aiming at hindering the attacker’s movement and not killing him.
According to PCHR’s follow-up and its fieldworker’s observations, the facts on the grounds confirm that no threat was posed to life of the soldiers who are hundreds of meters away from the demonstrators separated by a security fence and fortifications, including a huge sand barrier and personal shields. Even in instances when they approached the border fence, the demonstrators posed no threat as they appear to have been unarmed and in light of the heavy fortifications. This confirms there was no possible threat or imminent danger to the soldiers’ life and this was proven by the zero Israeli causalities since the beginning of the demonstrations on 30 March.
Moreover, PCHR’s follow-up of the deaths and injuries confirms that the Israeli soldiers used live and explosive bullets and deliberately targeted the demonstrators aiming at killing them or causing lifelong disabilities, and this can be clarified from the places of injury; many of which were in the head and upper part of the body or in the knee.
PCHR emphasizes that the increasing number of casualties, deaths or injuries, is unjustified as civilians who practice their right to peaceful assembly are being targeted.
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 hereby 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 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.