On the fifth Friday of the Great Return March, Israeli occupation forces opened fire at hundreds of Palestinians at demonstrations along the border of the Gaza Strip. Israeli forces continued the practice of employing lethal and other excessive force against unarmed protesters, journalists and paramedics. Four protesters participating in demonstrations on Friday, 27 April 2018 were killed—one of them, a child, died from his injuries the following day. Another 408 persons were injured, including 71 children, 14 women, five paramedics, and three journalists. Of those injured, 168 were wounded by live fire and 11 are in critical condition.
The documentation conducted by Al Mezan Center for Human Rights shows that from the start of the “Great Return March” demonstrations on 30 March 2018, 46 Palestinians have been killed. Of them, 39 were killed while in demonstrations, including four children and two journalists. During the same period, 3,650 Palestinians were injured in demonstrations, including 665 children, 128 women, 30 paramedics, and 32 journalists—1,933 from live fire.
Al Mezan’s documentation shows that at 2pm on Friday, 27 April 2018, Israeli forces located on the eastern border of the Gaza Strip used live ammunition, plastic-coated steel bullets, and tear gas cannisters against unarmed protesters. The shooting continued until approximately 7pm and left four protesters dead:
Palestinian journalists continue to be targeted: Abdul-Rahmn Al Kahlout, a 24-year-old journalist, sustained injuries in his right leg from live fire and Hashem Hamada, a 24-year-old journalist, sustained injuries when a tear gas cannister hit his head. Both journalists were hit while covering demonstrations in the east of the Gaza City district.
In parallel, at approximately 4pm, Israeli forces fired tear gas cannisters towards a field-based medical unit in the east of Al Burij refugee camp in the Middle Gaza district. Four paramedics inhaled tear gas and the work of the unit was interrupted. Another paramedic sustained injuries in both legs by live fire as he was evacuating casualties in eastern Gaza City.
Israeli forces also systematically fired at and injured unarmed protesters with tear gas cannisters. Hatem Al Telbani, 20, was hit directly below his left eye by a tear gas cannister at a demonstration in the east of the Middle Gaza district. Doctors at Shuhada Al Aqsa Hospital assessed Al Telbani’s injury as serious.
Al Mezan reiterates its strong condemnation of the use of lethal and other excessive force by the Israeli military, including sharpshooters, to police the demonstrations. Palestinians in Gaza have the right to peacefully assemble to demand their fundamental and inalienable human rights. The case of protesters, who pose no serious threat to the Israeli forces, being shot lethally indicates a bold continuation of unlawful targeting practices by Israeli forces despite the legal consequences of the practice and international condemnation.
Al Mezan asserts that the Israeli forces’ lethal and injurious targeting of protected civilians corresponds with the grave breaches of willful killing and willfully causing great suffering or serious injury under the Fourth Geneva Convention. This conduct is codified as war crimes under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, which Al Mezan is cooperating with in the context of pursuing accountability for international crimes.
Al Mezan calls on the international community to take immediate and effective steps to facilitate the protection of the peaceful protesters, who are practicing their rights to freedom of expression, assembly, and association by taking part in the demonstrations.