Focusing on Israeli authorities’ attacks on Palestinian fishermen and children and the subversion of the rule of law in Gaza by Palestinian authorities, in January 2018, Al Mezan Center for Human Rights issued five annual reports on violations of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt). Each report provides information of human rights violations and breaches of international humanitarian law that impact the daily lives of Palestinians in Gaza and undermine the inherent dignity of the population.
Palestinian Authorities: internal violations and the absence of the rule of law
Al Mezan’s report on violations committed by Palestinian authorities in Gaza and the absence of the rule of law documents the incidents and its victims of 2017. The failure of local authorities to uphold the rule of law in the oPt has been a challenge since the inception of the Palestinian National Authority in 1994. Growing more intense at times, this challenge manifested itself in 2017 in the outbreak of deadly family feuds and personal altercations, the so-called "honor killings”, and the use/misuse of weaponry by citizens and Palestinian factions. The report exposes violations committed by governmental agencies relating to the abuse of authority, failure to comply with legal procedures and codes, and the deliberate cancellation of peaceful assemblies such as demonstrations, as well as the arbitrary arrest and detention of activists and journalists within a movement to suppress civil and political rights.
Al Mezan’s effort to report on these issues is essential to raising public awareness of the critical impact on the stability of Gaza that these failures of the local authorities have. The population must be made aware of the negative trends and the efforts made to combat them, with a view to ultimately reversing the deterioration in the security and human rights situations in the oPt as it is affected by the Palestinian authorities.
Fishermen: Israeli authorities undermine Palestinian fishing sector and violate right to life
This report addresses the violations by Israeli forces of the rights of Palestinian fishermen working in the nautical access restricted areas in the Gaza Strip. While also highlighting a number of the most alarming assaults on fishermen in 2017—such as the killing of two fishermen and the ramming of a boat that resulted in the disappearance of a third—the report documents the attacks and harassment that has been the status quo since the start of the most stringent form of closure in 2007 and date back to restrictions in place from 1996. The report details the incidents of killing, detention and confiscation of boats and equipment from 2017.
2017 statistics: 215 incidents of Israeli assault and harassment were carried out, that resulted in two fishermen killed, one fisherman disappeared and presumed dead, 14 fishermen injured, and 39 fishermen detained, including three children. The Israeli forces also seized 13 fishing boats, and in seven incidents they destroyed boats and fishing equipment, such as nets and flashlights.
The report concludes that the Israeli forces’ activities form part of a policy aimed at undermining the fishing sector in the Gaza Strip, the most critical result of which is the dire economic conditions for fishermen—80% of whom live below the poverty line—and preventing access to and enjoyment of Palestinian natural resources.
The report aims to inform about the Israeli forces’ activities that contravene international legal obligations while advocating for an end to the illegal closure and the deep impunity enjoyed by Israeli government officials and military commanders alike for policies like these.
Children: Israel forces target and undermine Palestinian children’s rights relating to the UN MRM
Al Mezan’s annual report on the targeting of children in the context of armed conflict provides a year-long documentation of Israeli authorities’ attacks on Palestinian children in the Gaza Strip as well as relevant internal violations that undermine the rights of these children.
Al Mezan engages with the UN Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism, grounded in UN Resolution 1612, to monitor the situation of child rights and publish evidence of violations. The issues that Al Mezan documented in 2017 are summarized here:
Killing and injury: five children were killed and 167 others were injured in incidents involving the use of live fire by Israeli forces.
Detention: 13 children were detained by Israeli forces. These children were arrested during Israeli ground incursions; within the context of violations against fishermen at sea; and while in areas close to the border fence for agricultural work, picnics, and leisure activities.
Attacks on schools and hospitals: two schools were partially damaged by Israeli forces either through direct targeting of the school or when attacking nearby sites.
The report concludes that 2017 marked a continuation of the Israeli government’s policies and practices that harm children and violate their human rights—practices that are firmly grounded in Israel’s fifty years of occupation of Palestinian land and ten years of illegal closure and siege of the Gaza Strip.
Israeli forces use lethal force and arbitrary arrest in Gaza’s access restricted areas
This report highlights the targeting of farmers, sheep herders, sparrow catchers, people spending their leisure time in the vicinity of the access restricted area, scrap collectors, and demonstrators. Within the 297 attacks by Israeli forces, 12 Palestinians were killed, including two children; 849 Palestinians were injured, including 151 children and three women; and 18 Palestinians were detained, including ten children.
During the year, Israeli forces conducted 51 incursions into the access restricted area, during which 13 of the detentions were made.
These attacks are governed by international human rights law and point to Israeli forces’ use of arbitrary arrest and detention, and violations of the right to life and physical integrity. In particular, confronting unarmed protestors, one of whom, being Ibrahim Abu Thuraya, had limited ability to move as a double-amputee, with lethal force is unjustifiable in the relevant law enforcement framework.
While the responsibility for the Israeli forces’ conduct lies with the Israeli government, justice for Palestinians remains out of reach, while the Israeli military enjoys impunity.
A summary of Israeli international law violations in Gaza
This report is a compilation of the Israeli forces’ conduct throughout Gaza with a focus on the alarming trends of violations during the year. With some overlap with other reports, Al Mezan’s monitoring indicates that: 29 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces, including three children; 902 were injured, including 160 children; and 86 Palestinians in Gaza were detained. The report provides an analysis of these actions in terms of Palestinian human rights and the principles of international humanitarian law, notably military necessity and proportionality.
While looking at the stringent freedom of movement restrictions that form the basis of Israel’s closure and blockade policy, the report notes that 17 Palestinians were detained in Erez crossing. Palestinian patients from the Gaza Strip notably endure serious movement restrictions that deny them the right to health and in some cases the right to life. After their permits to access hospitals were significantly delayed or denied, at least 19 patients from Gaza died, including ten women and three children. With two patients dying in 2016, the 2017 figure represents a dramatic deterioration in the situation of Palestinian patients.
 A summary of the Israeli government’s international law violations in Gaza: http://mezan.org/post/24928