By 8pm local time (+2 GMT) on 14 May 2018, the Israeli forces had killed 57 protesters in the Gaza Strip, including 42 during demonstrations along the eastern border fence. Among those killed were six children and one person with disability. At least another 2,000 persons were injured, including 304 children, 77 women, ten journalists, and three paramedics. 1,114 of the injured were shot with live ammunition and at least 70 persons are in serious or critical condition at hospitals, according to medical sources.
Al Mezan’s documentation shows that at approximately 3am, Israeli forces entered the eastern areas of Gaza’s five districts and flattened the sand dunes that protesters had built up for protection, indicating an intention on the part of the Israeli forces to improve visibility for the purpose of targeting protesters. The Israeli forces also fortified the border fence with barbed wire. At approximately 6:30am, Israeli drones fire-bombed tents and field-based medical units. Some of the tents were destroyed.
At approximately 9:30am, Israeli forces located on Gaza’s eastern border fired live ammunition, plastic-coated steel bullets, and tear gas at unarmed protesters as they gathered to demonstrate. At approximately 1:30pm, Israeli artillery fired two shells at a group of Palestinians near Al Shuhada cemetery in the east of Jabalia refugee camp, North Gaza. 15 persons, of them two children, were killed. The shooting into the protests intensified and continued until about 5:30pm.
The Israeli forces escalated attacks on journalists, using live fire and injuring ten while they covered the demonstrations, even though they were wearing visible PRESS-marked vests. The journalists are:
Al Mezan also documented the continued targeting of medical teams and equipment, which disrupted rescue operations. Ziad Al Nabaheen, a paramedic working for the Palestinian Red Crescent Society, was seriously injured in the abdomen by live fire. Also, Ibrahim Al Talalqa and Ahmed Obaid, both paramedics in the Military Medical Services (MMS), were injured by shrapnel from live fire. An ambulance of the MMS was also damaged by live fire.
Al Mezan’s documentation shows that since the start of the demonstrations on 30 March 2018, 99 Palestinians have been killed, including 11 children, two journalists, one person on crutches and three persons with disability. During the same period, 6,938 were injured, including 1,244 children, 253 women, 42 paramedics, and 59 journalists—of them 3,615 were hit by live fire.
While continuing to verify the documentation of incidents on the ground, Al Mezan reiterates its strong condemnation of the use of lethal and other excessive force by the Israeli forces, including sharpshooters, to police 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, despite its legal consequences 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 unlawful 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.
In recognition of the dramatic humanitarian and legal implications of today’s escalation, Al Mezan is urging the international community to take prompt steps to protect unarmed protesters and their right to peaceful assembly, to pressure Israeli forces to abstain from using unlawful force, and to allow free movement of patients, medical personnel, and medicines and equipment.