Time: 11pm (+3 GMT)
Tens of thousands of Palestinians joined the Great March of Return (GMR) demonstrations around the Gaza Strip on Saturday, 30 March 2019, to mark the first anniversary of the demonstrations. The protesters reiterated their demand of an end to Israel’s policy of closure and blockade of Gaza and further stressed the right of refugees to return.
Documentation by Al Mezan Center for Human Rights shows that the Israeli forces continued its policy throughout the past year: using lethal and excessive force in policing demonstrations. Israeli forces targeted unarmed protesters and paramedics and journalists with live ammunition, plastic-coated steel bullets, and tear gas canisters. Drones were also used to fire tear gas canisters onto protests. Al Mezan documented the following casualties on Saturday:
All the journalists were injured during their coverage of the GMR demonstration in east Rafah.
Al Mezan’s documentation shows that from 30 March 2018, Israeli forces have killed 278 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. Of the total fatalities, 201 were killed at the protests, including 43 children, two women, three paramedics, two journalists, and eight persons with disability. Another 15,815 persons have been wounded, including 3,471 children, 705 women, 183 paramedics, and 158 journalists. Of the wounded, 8,113 were wounded from live fire, including 1,534 children and 160 women.
Al Mezan condemns the use of lethal and other excessive force by the Israeli forces, including sharpshooters, to police demonstrations. Al Mezan also expresses deep concern at the continued, deliberate attacks on unarmed protesters, medics and journalists. 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.
On the first anniversary of the GMR demonstrations, Al Mezan reiterates its support of the latest UN Commission of Inquiry report, which concluded that Israeli forces have committed serious violations of international law in their response to the Palestinian protests, including by applying lethal and other excessive and unnecessary force. In light of this report and its recommendations, Al Mezan stresses its demand that the international community ends its silence on the aggravating human rights situation in the oPt, in particular Gaza. The lack of effective action encourages human rights abuses. Al Mezan calls on all countries to pursue coherent and consistent policy that ensures human rights are protected and promoted for all peoples.
Al Mezan calls on the UN Human Rights Council to keep the mandate of its independent Commission so that any more abuses are monitored and documented. Al Mezan also calls on the International Criminal Court, in line with the Rome Statute, to exercise its jurisdiction by credibly investigating and prosecuting those who committed or ordered committed serious human rights violations.