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4 May 2018: IOF Continue to Deliberately Injure Palestinians, Expose Peaceful Protesters, Paramedics, and Journalists to Tear Gas Causing Fainting and Seizures

Sunday, 06 May 2018 20:20 - Ref. No: 77/2018
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IOF injure and expose paramedics and medical staff to tear gas causing fainting and seizures during sixth Great Return March protests on Friday, 4 May 2018, east of Khuza’a, east of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip – (c) Al-Haq 2018. Following five weeks of peaceful protests as part of the Great Return March, launched on 30 March 2018, the Israeli Occupying Forces (IOF) continued to deliberately target peaceful Palestinian protesters in the Gaza Strip. For the sixth consecutive week,[1] on Friday, 4 May 2018, the IOF injured 195 Palestinians, shooting live ammunition and firing tear gas canisters at crowds of protesters. The injured included 28 children, eight women, five paramedics, and five journalists. These are in addition to hundreds of Palestinians injured as a result of exposure to tear gas, amongst them journalists and tens of paramedics.

On 4 May 2018, the IOF continued to use excessive force, including lethal force, against peaceful Palestinian protesters participating in the Great Return March, despite them not posing any immediate threat to IOF soldiers and snipers, positioned behind the fence running along the Gaza Strip. While no killings by the IOF were recorded on 4 May 2018, the IOF injured 195 Palestinians, one of whom is in a critical condition. Hundreds of others suffered from exposure to tear gas, including Al-Haq’s field researchers documenting the peaceful protests.

Al-Haq documented the IOF’s excessive firing of tear gas in a widespread and unprecedented manner this week. Tear gas canisters were fired in bursts and carried by drones well within the ‘return camp’ areas and even further, including in medical points where the injured were being treated. Hundreds of protesters, including women and children, medical staff, paramedics, and journalists were exposed to tear gas, some of whom suffered from fainting and seizures as a result of tear gas inhalation. Al-Haq also documented an incident where a tear gas canister was dropped on a tent in which injured persons were being treated.[2] A tear gas canister also hit an ambulance belonging to the Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) in Khuza’a, east of Khan Younis.

Sixth Great Return March protests on Friday, 4 May 2018, east of Khuza’a, east of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip – (c) Al-Haq 2018.

According to preliminary documentation by Al-Haq, thousands of protesters of different age groups, including women, children, youth, the elderly, and entire families, gathered once again on Friday, 4 May 2018, to demand that Israel lift its suffocating and unlawful closure of the Gaza Strip and realise Palestinian refugees’ right of return. They gathered from the morning hours around the return tents set up along the eastern areas of the Gaza Strip, and continued to peacefully protest until 8:00 pm that evening. Hundreds of Israeli occupying soldiers, including snipers, were positioned behind the fence on elevated sand hills and in military jeeps, at distances varying between 30 and 60 metres beyond the Gaza Strip’s eastern fence. Palestinians peacefully protested at distances varying between 50 to 500 metres on the Gazan side of the fence, raising Palestinian flags, chanting national slogans, flying kites, and burning car tires, while tens of protesters attempted to reach the fence to throw stones at the IOF.

IOF injure 195 Palestinians throughout the Gaza Strip on 4 May 2018

In the North Gaza Governorate, the peaceful Great Return March protests were concentrated within the ‘return camp’ and its surrounding areas east of Jabaliya. The IOF injured 84 Palestinians, including nine children. Amongst the injured, 28 were injured by live ammunition and 21 through direct hits by tear gas canisters, including 28-year-old paramedic, Ahmad Omar Dahman.

In the Gaza Governorate, the peaceful protests took place east of Al-Shuja’iyah, east of Gaza. There Al-Haq documented that 45 Palestinians were injured, including seven children and five women. Amongst them, 13 were injured by live ammunition shot by the IOF, two by shrapnel from live bullets, and seven by direct tear gas canister hits. A journalist, Muhammad Jawad Saqer, 25, was injured as a result of exposure to tear gas.

In the Central Governorate, the protests were located east of Al-Breij refugee camp. During the Al-Breij protests, 43 Palestinians were injured by the IOF, including a woman and three children. A further 17 Palestinians were injured by live ammunition, whereas the other injuries were a result of direct hits by tear gas canisters and exposure to tear gas. The IOF injured two journalists, including Mahmoud Khalil Bader, 22, a journalist with the Palestinian Information Center, and Al-Aqsa TV photojournalist Sami Jamal Mutran, 34, who was injured by a live bullet in the shoulder.

In the Khan Younis Governorate, peaceful protests took place east of Khuza’a, east of Khan Younis. The IOF injured 61 Palestinians, including six children, two women, two journalists, and a paramedic. Amongst the 61 injured, 12 were injured as a result of live ammunition used by the IOF and 49 as a result of direct hits by tear gas canisters.

In the Rafah Governorate, the protests were concentrated east of Al-Shawka, east of Rafah. The IOF injured 13 Palestinians, including two children and a paramedic. Amongst the injured, 11 were injured by live ammunition and two as a result of direct hits by tear gas canisters.

Throughout the different Governorates of the Gaza Strip, hundreds of peaceful protesters were injured on 4 May 2018 as a result of excessively fired tear gas and the shooting of live ammunition by the IOF. Al-Haq documented the injury of protesters, paramedics, medical staff, and journalists as a result of exposure to tear gas fired by the IOF and dropped by drones on protesters and in areas where the wounded were being treated. Amongst those who suffered from tear gas exposure, Al-Haq documented cases of fainting and seizures caused by tear gas inhalation, requiring treatment on location by paramedics as well as in hospitals across the Gaza Strip.[3]

Paramedics and medical staff treat the wounded during the sixth Great Return March protests on Friday, 4 May 2018, east of Khuza’a, east of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip – (c) Al-Haq 2018.

Al-Haq is particularly alarmed at the excessive nature of the tear gas fired by the IOF in the Gaza Strip during the peaceful protests on 4 May 2018. Due to the amount of tear gas fired and the use of drones to drop tear gas canisters in the ‘return camp’ areas, the gas reached field medical points and led to the injury of paramedics by tear gas inhalation, while they were treating the wounded. Such conduct by the IOF may amount to a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention[4] and the war crime[5] of “wilfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health,” giving rise to individual criminal responsibility at the International Criminal Court. Since 30 March 2018, the IOF have killed 50 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, including 40 during Great Return March protests, which are expected to continue until 15 May, when Palestinians mark the seventieth commemoration of their mass expulsion and dispossession in 1948.


[1] For previous Al-Haq’s documentation of the Great Return March, see: Al-Haq, “30 March: 15 Palestinians Killed, More than a Thousand Injured, as IOF Violently Suppress Palestinian Protestors in the Gaza Strip” (31 March 2018), available at: http://www.alhaq.org/advocacy/topics/gaza/1206-30-march-15-palestinians-killed-more-than-a-thousand-injured-as-iof-violently-suppress-palestinian-protestors-in-the-gaza-strip. Al-Haq, “6 April 2018: 9 Palestinian Protestors Killed, Another by an Israeli Airstrike, Hundreds Injured in the Gaza Strip” (9 April 2018), available at: http://www.alhaq.org/advocacy/topics/gaza/1212-6-april-2018-9-palestinian-protestors-killed-another-by-an-israeli-airstrike-hundreds-injured-in-the-gaza-strip-. Al-Haq, “13 April: Palestinian Determination to Peaceful Protest Continues to be met with Excessive Use of Force by the IOF” (19 April 2018), available at: http://www.alhaq.org/advocacy/topics/gaza/1216-13-april-palestinian-determination-to-peaceful-protest-continues-to-be-met-with-excessive-use-of-force-by-the-iof. Al-Haq, “20 April 2018: Wilful Killing of Four Palestinians, including a Child, and Injury of 252 Protesters in Fourth Great Return March Week” (21 April 2018), available at: http://www.alhaq.org/advocacy/topics/gaza/1218-20-april-2018-wilful-killing-of-four-palestinians-including-a-child-and-injury-of-252-protesters-in-fourth-great-return-march-week. Al-Haq, “27 April 2018: Wilful Killings Continue in the Gaza Strip as Impunity Prevails” (30 April 2018), available at: http://www.alhaq.org/advocacy/topics/gaza/1224-27-april-2018-wilful-killings-continue-in-the-gaza-strip-as-impunity-prevails.

[2] Al-Haq has recorded previous incidents of this nature. See Al-Haq, “20 April 2018: Wilful Killing of Four Palestinians, including a Child, and Injury of 252 Protesters in Fourth Great Return March Week” (21 April 2018), available at: http://www.alhaq.org/advocacy/topics/gaza/1218-20-april-2018-wilful-killing-of-four-palestinians-including-a-child-and-injury-of-252-protesters-in-fourth-great-return-march-week.

[3] Al-Haq Field Report, 4 May 2018.

[4]Article 147, Fourth Geneva Convention.

[5]Article 8(2)(a)(iii), Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

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