Gaza City—On the thirtieth Friday of the Great Return March demonstrations in Gaza, the Israeli military continued its use of live ammunition, plastic-coated steel bullets, and tear gas on people who participated. Documentation by Al Mezan Center for Human Rights shows that at 4:10 pm on Friday, 19 October 2018, the Israeli military wounded 305 protesters, including 46 children, four women, six journalists, and three paramedics; 204 of them were wounded by live ammunition, including 27 children and two women. Five of the injured are in critical condition according to medical sources. Al Mezan’s documentation reveals a clear trend of Israeli soldiers shooting protesters in the upper parts of their bodies.
At 4:55pm, the Israeli air force launched a missile that struck close to the demonstration in the east of Al Bureij refugee camp in the Middle Gaza district. No casualties were reported.
At 5:25 pm, Israeli air force carried out an attack on a group of Palestinians near a demonstration. Four suffered moderate wounds from shrapnel.
Members of medical teams and the press continued to be harmed by Israeli forces’ fire. Al Mezan documented the following incidents:
Al Mezan’s documentation shows that from the start of the Great Return March protests on 30 March 2018, 217 Palestinians have been killed in the Gaza Strip. Of the total number of fatalities, 163 were killed at the demonstrations—including 33 children, one woman, two journalists, three paramedics, and four persons with disability. Another 11,155 persons were injured, including 2,009 children, 442 women, 122 paramedics, and 130 journalists. Of those injured, 6,392 were hit by live fire, including 1,016 children and 120 women. The Israeli military continues to hold the bodies of ten of the killed, including of two children.
Al Mezan reiterates its condemnation of the use of lethal and other excessive force by the Israeli forces, including sharpshooters and air force, to police demonstrations. Al Mezan voices its deep concern about the continued attacks that cause harm, often irreversible, to children, and concerning attacks on journalists and paramedics who are visibly marked as such by their clothing and gear. Al Mezan stresses that the rights to peaceful assembly and free expression are fundamental and must be respected. Unarmed protesters not posing any serious or imminent threat to the Israeli forces must not be shot.
Al Mezan urges the international community to take prompt and effective action 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 requirement 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.
The failure to hold to account perpetrators of human rights and international humanitarian law violations encourages the advancement of harmful policies and practices. Al Mezan therefore calls on the international community to support accountability mechanisms to ensure that violators are brought to justice in accordance with international law, including international 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.