On 11 May 2018, the seventh Friday of the Great Return March demonstrations, Israeli forces employed lethal and other excessive force and opened fire at Palestinian protesters along the border fence of the Gaza Strip. One protester was killed and about 350 were injured—including 76 children, three women, three paramedics, and six journalists. Of those injured, 163 were hit by live fire and ten were considered to be in critical condition.
Al Mezan’s documentation shows that at 2pm on Friday, 11 May 2018, Israeli forces located on the eastern border of the Gaza Strip used live ammunition, plastic-coated steel bullets, and tear gas on unarmed protesters, paramedics and journalists. Jabir Salem Abu Mustafa, a 38-year-old resident of Khan Younis, was lethally shot with live fire in the chest at 4:30pm at the demonstration in eastern Khan Younis. Six journalists who were covering the demonstrations sustained various injuries when Israeli forces fired live ammunition and tear gas at them. The shooting continued until approximately 7pm.
Al Mezan’s documentation shows that from the start of the Great Return March on 30 March 2018, 41 Palestinians have been killed in protests, including five children, two journalists, and two persons with disability. During the same period, 4,936 were injured, including 938 children, 181 women, 39 paramedics, and 49 journalists—of them approximately 2,500 were hit by live fire.
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.