One Palestinian protester was killed and about 286 persons were injured by the Israeli military during the Great Return March demonstrations on Friday, 21 September 2018 in the Gaza Strip. Among those injured were 53 children, two women, and one paramedic. 85 of the injured were shot with live fire, including 37 children and women.
The documentation by Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights shows that from 5:15pm on Friday, 21 September 2018, Israeli forces fired live ammunition, plastic-coated bullets, tear gas canisters, and a sound bomb at unarmed protesters, journalists and paramedics at the demonstrations. Al Mezan’s documentation shows that:
At around 6:20pm, Kareem Kullab, a 19-year-old resident of Al-Abraj in northwest Gaza City, was shot in the chest with a live bullet at the demonstration in the east of Gaza City. Doctors at Al Shifa Hospital pronounced him dead at 6:30pm.
Paramedic Abdulraheem Abu Baid, 29-year-old who works for the Palestinian Civil Defense, was shot in the left leg with a live bullet while at the demonstration in east Gaza City.
The Israeli forces also fired a sound bomb at demonstrators in the east of Gaza City at 6:10pm. No casualties were reported after the bombing.
Al Mezan’s documentation shows that from the start of the Great Return March protests on 30 March 2018, 194 Palestinians have been killed in the Gaza Strip. Of them, 141 were killed in the demonstrations—including 28 children, one woman, two journalists, three paramedics, and three persons with disability. Another 9,970 persons were injured, including 1,815 children, 419 women, 114 paramedics, and 105 journalists. Of those injured, 5,645 were hit by live fire, including 919 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 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, journalists and paramedics.