On Friday, 18 May 2018, Israeli forces opened fire at unarmed Palestinian protesters along the fence between the Gaza Strip and Israel. By 8pm local time, at least 30 protesters were injured, including two children and two journalists—of them 15 were wounded by live ammunition. Many persons who were injured during protests during the past weeks, including on 14 May 2018, remain in critical condition threatening their lives at hospitals.
Documentation conducted by Al Mezan Center for Human Rights shows that at 4pm on Friday, 18 May 2018, Israeli forces located on the eastern fence of the Gaza Strip used live ammunition, plastic-coated steel bullets, and tear gas canisters on unarmed protesters and paramedics. Journalists Bassam Masoud and Majdi Fathi sustained wounds from tear gas canisters to the head and right leg respectively. The shooting continued until 7:30pm.
Al Mezan’s initial monitoring shows that from the start of the Great Return March on 30 March 2018, 115 people have been killed in the Gaza Strip. Of them, at least 86 were killed in protests, including 12 children, two journalists, and three persons with disability. During the same period, at least 7,047 were injured, including 1,253 children, 253 women, 44 paramedics, and 62 journalists—of them approximately 3,670 were hit by live fire.
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 welcomes resolution (A/HRC/S-28/L.1), adopted by the UN Human Rights Council, which condemns Israeli violations of international humanitarian and human rights laws during the demonstrations in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and mandates an independent international commission of inquiry to investigate all violations committed in the context of the large-scale civilian protests. Al Mezan expresses its hope that the commission will be formed swiftly for the benefit of justice and accountability.
In recognition of the dramatic humanitarian and legal implications of the recent 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, to hold to account perpetrators, notably commanders, and to ensure Palestinians’ access to their indispensable and inalienable human rights.