Time: 9pm (local time)
During the Great Return March demonstrations on Friday, 14 September 2018, in the Gaza Strip, three Palestinian protesters were killed—one of them a child. About 172 demonstrators were injured by the Israeli military, including 25 children, four women, and five paramedics. 104 of the injured were shot with live fire, including 14 children and one woman.
The documentation by Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights shows that from 4:15pm on Friday, 14 September 2018, Israeli forces fired live ammunition, plastic-coated bullets, and tear gas canisters at unarmed protesters, journalists and paramedics at the Great Return March demonstrations. Al Mezan’s documentation shows that:
At around 5:25pm, Hani Afana, a 21-year-old resident of the southern governorate of Rafah, was shot in the chest with a live bullet at the demonstration in east Rafah. At 6pm on the same day, doctors at the Gaza European Hospital pronounced him dead as a result of his critical injury.
Later, medical sources reported the death of Mohammed Shaqoura, a 20-year-old resident of Maghazi refugee camp. At about 6:40pm, Shaqoura was shot in the chest with a live bullet while at the demonstration in east Al Burij refugee camp in the Middle Area district. He was pronounced dead upon arrival at the hospital.
At about 5:30pm, the body of 12-year-old Shadi Abdul ’Al, a resident of Al Fakhoura in Jabalia refugee camp, arrived at the Indonesian Hospital in the North Gaza district. According to medical sources, he had been hit in the head with a hard object that fractured his skull and caused internal bleeding. The child was injured at the demonstration in east Jabalia in the North Gaza district. The nature of the object that hit and killed him has not been fully established at the publication of this press release.
Following a consistent pattern of targeting paramedics at the demonstrations, Salwa Jneid, who is a paramedic at the Ministry of Health, sustained a direct hit to the left leg from a tear gas canister. Reem Shatat, who works with the Volunteer Paramedic Team, sustained a direct hit to the pelvis from a tear gas canister. Both of the 20-year-olds are women paramedics and were injured while evacuating and providing care to injured protesters in North Gaza. In addition, Mohammed Kutkut, a 46-year-old paramedic working for the Civil Defence, was shot with a live bullet in the left arm. In east Rafah, Zuhair Al-Shaikh (Jouda), a 30-year-old paramedic who works with the Palestinian Volunteer Youth Group, was shot with a live bullet in the right leg. In east Al Burij refugee camp in the Middle Gaza district, Dina Salem, a 22-year-old paramedic volunteering with the Palestinian Red Crescent Society, sustained a direct hit to the left thigh from a tear gas canister.
Al Mezan’s documentation shows that from the start of the Great Return March on 30 March 2018, 186 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza. Of them, 135 were killed in the demonstrations—including 26 children, one woman, two journalists, three paramedics, and three persons with disability. Another 9,543 people were injured, including 1,754 children, 417 women, 112 paramedics, and 86 journalists. Of those injured, 5,414 were hit by live fire, including 885 children and 113 women.
Al Mezan reiterates its condemnation of the use of lethal and other excessive force by the Israeli forces, including sharpshooters, to police demonstrations. Al Mezan stresses its condemnation of the continued attacks on medics. Al Mezan stresses that the right to peaceful assembly and free expression are fundamental rights and must be respected. Unarmed protesters not posing any serious or imminent threat to the Israeli forces must not be shot. The excessive use of force indicates a continuation of unlawful targeting practices on the part of the Israeli forces despite its legal consequences and international condemnation.
Al Mezan urges the international community, led by the Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention, to take prompt and effective steps to ensure respect for international law and provide meaningful protection for unarmed protesters and civilians throughout Gaza. The duty to protect civilians is a principal legal obligation and is, at this point in the conflict, a test of the authenticity of the international community’s commitment to their legal obligations, moral standards and humanitarian objectives vis-à-vis the Palestinian population.
Al Mezan stresses its position that the failure to hold to account perpetrators of human rights and international humanitarian law violations encourages the advancement of impunity. Al Mezan therefore calls on the international community to activate accountability mechanisms in order to ensure that violators are brought to justice in accordance with international humanitarian and criminal law. In this vein, the international community is called upon to support the UN Commission of Inquiry’s impartial and independent investigation into the apparent unlawful deployment of force against unarmed demonstrators.