The Great Return March demonstrations in Gaza, slated to last just six weeks, are in their thirty-seventh week and the Israeli military continues to harm children through the use of apparent unlawful use of force. On 11 December 2018, a child hit with shrapnel days earlier, died from his wounds, according to documentation by Al Mezan Center for Human Rights. Ahmed Abu Abed, four, and his father, 36, were both injured at the demonstration in eastern Khan Younis. Thirty-four children have now been killed by Israeli forces within the context of the ongoing protests.
According to Al Mezan’s documentation, Yaser Abu Abed and his son, Ahmed, were about 200 meters away from the fence in eastern Khan Younis when Israeli forces shot Yaser in the left leg. Ahmed was hit in the face and chest with shrapnel from the live fire and seriously wounded. At 8pm on Tuesday, 11 December 2018, Ahmed succumbed to his injuries. His death was announced by the Gaza European Hospital in Khan Younis.
Al Mezan’s documentation shows that from the start of the Great Return March protests on 30 March 2018, 251 Palestinians have been killed in the Gaza Strip. Of the total fatalities, 175 were killed at the demonstrations—including 34 children, one woman, two journalists, three paramedics, and six persons with disability, including one child with disability. Another 12,997 persons have been wounded, including 2,589 children, 556 women, 143 paramedics, and 136 journalists. Of those wounded, 7,208 were hit by live fire, including 1,282 children and 147 women. The list of injuries does not include those protesters, medics and journalists who suffered major breathing difficulties due to the Israeli forces’ heavy use of tear gas. The Israeli forces continue to keep the bodies of 11 fatalities, including three children.
Al Mezan reiterates its condemnation of the use of lethal and other excessive force by the Israeli forces, including sharpshooters, to police demonstrations and target civilians. Al Mezan expresses deep concern at the continued attacks on children. 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.
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, journalists and medics in Gaza.
The failure to hold to account perpetrators of human rights abuses encourages the advancement of harmful policies and practices, such as Israel’s use of snipers and live fire to police demonstrations. Al Mezan therefore calls on the international community to support accountability mechanisms and ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice in accordance with international 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 the unarmed protesters—in particular children—journalists and paramedics.