Time: 8pm (+2 GMT)
On 5 April 2019, the 53rd Friday of the Great March of Return (GMR) demonstrations, Israeli forces continued using excessive force in policing unarmed protesters. Documentation by Al Mezan Center for Human Rights that Israeli forces used live ammunition, plastic-coated steel bullets, and tear gas canisters, resulting in the injury of 144 protesters, of them 41 children, six women, and two journalists. 57 of those injured were wounded by live fire, including one seriously, and 44 by tear gas canisters.
The documentation by Al Mezan shows that Safinaz Al-Louh, 27, a correspondent of Amad News Agency, was injured by a tear gas canister that directly hit at her right leg at the demonstration in east Middle Gaza district. Issa Abu Sa’ada, 26, a photojournalist with Nour News Network, was injured by a tear gas canister that hit him directly at his left leg at the demonstration in east Khan Younis district.
Al Mezan’s documentation shows that from 30 March 2018, Israeli forces have killed 279 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. Of the total fatalities, 202 were killed at the protests, including 43 children, two women, three paramedics, two journalists, and eight persons with disability. Another 15,966 persons have been wounded, including 3,553 children, 719 women, 182 paramedics, and 159 journalists. Of the wounded, 8,188 were wounded from live fire, including 1,564 children and 160 women.
Al Mezan condemns the use of excessive and other unlawful force by the Israeli forces, including sharpshooters, to police demonstrations. Al Mezan also expresses deep concern at the continued, deliberate attacks on unarmed protesters 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.
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 maintain the independent monitoring of protests so that ongoing abuses are properly 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.