On Friday, 29 June 2018, using excessive lethal force against the peaceful protesters in eastern Gaza Strip for the 11th Friday in a row, Israeli forces killed two Palestinian civilians, including a child, and wounded 124 other civilians, including 13 children, 3 women, 3 paramedics and a female journalist, in addition to dozens suffering tear gas inhalation. 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 3 Persons with Disabilities and a female child||2||2||2||15||110||Killed|
|Among those wounded, 312 in serious condition and 57 had their lower or upper limbs amputated||239||65||172||953||5793||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 3 of them this week, east of Jabalia and Khan Yunis. Moreover, an ambulance was hit with a tear gas canister in eastern Gaza though the medical personnel members, means of medical transport, and field hospitals were distinctively marked and easily identified. The medical personnel was wearing their distinctive medical uniform, and the ambulances were 300 meters away from the border fence.
- The Israeli forces widely used bursts of tear gas canisters and from drones, military jeep and soldiers’ rifles, 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 dozens 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 female journalist in eastern Khan Yonus.
- 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 on 29 June 2018, were as follows:
At approximately 15:00, hundreds of civilians, including women, children and 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 16:30, 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. Moreover, the protestors removed the barbed wire fence established by the Israeli forces inside the Palestinian territories around 50 meters away from the main border fence.
The Israeli shooting which continued until 19:30 resulted in the killing of 2 civilians, including a child, in eastern Rafah and Khan Younis, south of the Gaza Strip when they were among other protestors around 100-200 meters away from the border fence.
Those civilians killed were identified as:
1- Yaser Amjad Mousa Abu al-Najjah (12) was wounded at approximately 18:53 with a live bullet to the head, causing a laceration to his brain in eastern Khuza’ah and immediately succumbed to his wounds; and
2- Mohamed Fawzi Mohamed al-Hamiydah (24) was hit with a live bullet to the abdomen when he was in eastern Rafah.
Moreover, 124 civilians, including 13 children, 3 women, 3 paramedics and a female journalist, were wounded with bullets and directly hit with tear gas canisters. In addition, hundreds suffered tear gas inhalation and seizures, including PCHR’s fieldworkers while covering the suppression of demonstrations, after Israeli forces fired tear gas canisters.
PCHR condemned 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 emphasized 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.
It also emphasized that ongoing 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 emphasized 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, adding it believes that continuously targeting journalists while on duty with bullets and tear gas canisters proves that there is an Israeli policy to target journalists in order to prevent them from covering the Israeli suppression of the peaceful protestors, in violation of the rule of international humanitarian law.
PCHR emphasized 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 stressed that Israel shall be held accountable and prosecuted through investigating with it into these crimes. PCHR also stressed 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 called 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, and asked 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 called for the prompt formation of an international commission of inquiry according to the UN Human Rights Council’s Resolution to investigate the crimes committed by the Israeli forces against unarmed civilians in the Return March activities, reiterating 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 also called 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.