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Al-Haq Field Update on Great Return March: 154 Palestinian Protestors Killed since 30 March 2018 in the Gaza Strip

Thursday, 11 October 2018 18:38
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Date: 11 October 2018,

Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have been protesting for 28 weeks as part of the Great Return March that commenced on 30 March 2018. Since then, the Israeli Occupying Forces (IOF) have resorted to excessive and lethal force against peaceful protestors, including children, paramedics and journalists. The IOF’s persistent suppression of the Great Return March protests violate the rights of the occupied Palestinian population to peaceful assembly and expression, as well as their right to life. Thus far, the IOF has killed 154 Palestinians in the context of the march[1]. During the march, soldiers are shielded by earth mounds and armoured vehicles along the fence.

Information provided below is based on Al-Haq field researchers’ documentation and monitoring throughout the protests.

25th Great Return March protests, Friday, 14 September 2018

On 14 September 2018, between 4:00 – 7:30 pm, thousands of Palestinians, including women and children, arrived at the five “return camps” in the east fence areas of the Gaza Strip, to participate in the peaceful protests of the Great Return March. The protestors raised the Palestinian flag and chanted national slogans. Meanwhile, some of the protestors set tires on fire and threw stones at the IOF, who were deployed behind the fence. As always, the IOF shot at peaceful protestors, paramedics and journalists in the area. As a result, two Palestinians were killed by the IOF. Al-Haq also documented and monitored the injury of 157 demonstrators, including 25 children. In addition, an 11-year-old boy died as a result of an injury he sustained in the head during the protests. Of the 157 injured, 106 were wounded by live ammunition. In addition, five paramedics were wounded while on duty near the fence.

Killings

At around 6:40 pm, on Friday, 14 September 2018, Muhammad Khalil Shaqoura, 20, from Al-Maghazi Refugee Camp in the Central Governorate, was hit with a bullet in the chest, fired by an Israeli sniper hiding behind the fence, east of Al-Breij Refugeem Camp, from a distance of approximately 100 metres. Muhammad was transferred to Al-Aqsa Hospital in Deir Al-Balah, and was pronounced dead upon arrival.

At about 5:25 pm on Friday, 14 September 2018, Hani Ramzi Afana, 21, from Rafah, in south Gaza, was wounded in the chest, while participating in the Great Return March. Hani was shot from a distance of approximately 100 metres from the fence, east of Rafah.  Hani was pronounced dead upon arrival to the European Hospital in Khan Younis.

Meanwhile, 11-year-old Shadi Abd Al-Aziz Abd Al-‘Al from Jabaliya Refugee Camp, was killed during the protests in in Talet Abu Safia area, east of Jabaliya, north of the Gaza Strip. Shadi was brought to Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza for a post-mortem examination where doctors observed that he was hit with a solid object in the back of his head.[2]

Injuries

In Rafah Governorate, 28 protestors were injured, including four children. Of the 28 injured, 20 were wounded by live ammunition, three by bullet shrapnel, and seven by direct tear gas canisters, during the protests in east Rafah. In addition, one volunteer paramedic was injured by a gunshot in his right leg while on duty, transferring injured persons at the location.

In the North Gaza Governorate, 43 protestors were wounded, including eight children, in the protests in Talat Abu Safia area, east of Jabaliya. Of the 43, 16 were injured by live ammunition, while 27 were wounded by direct tear gas canisters. Three paramedics were also wounded with tear gas canisters. Meanwhile, in the Gaza Governorate, 49 protestors were injured, including seven children, during the protests in Malaka, east of Gaza city. Of the 49, 33 were wounded by live ammunition and 14 by direct tear gas canisters.

In the Central Governorate, 13 Palestinians, including two children, were injured by the IOF’s live ammunition east of Al-Breij Refugee Camp. One volunteer paramedic was also wounded in her left thigh. Meanwhile, in Khan Younis Governorate, 24 Palestinians, including four children, were wounded by live ammunition during the protests in Khuzaa, east of Khan Younis. It should be noted that in addition to the aforementioned injuries, 15 other cases of gas inhalation and bruises were admitted to Gaza’s hospitals.

26th Great Return March protests, Friday, 21 September 2018

On Friday, 21 September 2018, the IOF killed one Palestinian protestor and injured 177 others with live ammunition and tear gas canisters. Among the 177 injured, there were 32 children and one paramedic, with eight in critical condition as of 21 September evening. On that day, protestors gathered in the five governorates of the Gaza Strip: Al Shawka to the East of Rafah, the East of Khuza’a in Khan Younis, Al-Briej Refugee Camp in the Central Governorate, the east of Al Zaytoun neighbourhood to the East of Gaza, and the East of Jabalia in North Gaza Governorate. The protests took place between 4:00 pm and 8:00 pm. The protestors were located at various distances, ranging between 50 and 400 metres from the fence. Palestinians raised Palestinian flags and chanted national slogans. They also set tires on fire, flew balloons and kites, and threw stones at the Israeli soldiers. On the other side of the fence, hundreds of IOF soldiers were located about 30-60 metres, behind earth mounds and barriers and inside military jeeps. They fired live ammunition and gas canisters directly at the demonstrators.

Killings

At approximately 6:20 pm, Israeli soldiers located behind earth mounds behind the fence east of Al-Zaytoun neighbourhood in the Malaka area, east of Gaza city, shot Kareem Muhammad Kulab, 20. Kareem was injured with a bullet that entered his stomach and exited through his back. He was transferred to Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza city, where he was pronounced dead upon arrival. Kareem was participating in the protest, approximately 150 metres away from the fence when he was shot.

Injuries

In the North Gaza Governorate, 39 Palestinian protestors, including 15 children, were wounded by the IOF during the protests east of Jabaliya. Of the 39, 30 were wounded by live ammunition, whereas nine were hit by tear gas canisters. In the Gaza Governorate, 84 were wounded; 74 of whom by live ammunition and the rest by tear gas canisters, during the protests in east of Al-Zaytoun neighbourhood, east of Gaza city. Among the 84 wounded, six were children and one paramedic. Meanwhile, in the Central Governorate, 15 Palestinians were wounded, including four children. Of the 15, 14 were wounded by live bullets and one by tear gas canisters during the protests east of Al-Breij Refugee Camp. In Khan Younis Governorate, 16 demonstrators were wounded by live ammunition, including three children, during the protests in east Khuza’a. In the Rafah Governorate, 23 were wounded by live ammunition and tear gas canisters, during the protests in east of Al Shawka area.

Sunday, 23 September 2018

On 23 September 2018, the IOF killed Emad Dawood Ishtewi, 20, at about 10:30 pm. Emad was shot with a bullet in the head during the protests in Al-Malaka area, east of Gaza city. On 24 September 2018, as the protests continued in different parts of the Gaza Strip, the IOF killed Muhammad Fayez Abu Al-Sadeq, 21, and injured 50 others, including 14 children. Of the 50 injured, 16 were shot by live ammunition and 26 by direct tear gas canisters, while eight suffered gas inhalation. Muhammad was transferred to Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza where he was pronounced dead at approximately 7:00 pm of the same day.

27th Great Return March Protests, Friday, 28 September 2018

On Friday, 28 September 2018, Palestinian protestors continued the Great Return March in various locations across the Gaza Strip. The IOF killed four Palestinians participating in the protests, including two children. The IOF also injured at least 250 Palestinians, including 31 children. Of the 250 injured, 130 were shot with live ammunition. One paramedic and four journalists were among the injured.

Killing

On 28 September, Iyad Khalil Al-Sha’er, 18, was shot with a live bullet in the chest by the IOF, situated about 100 metres behind the fence in Malka, east of Al-Zaytoun neighbourhood, east of Gaza city. Iyad was transferred to Al-Shifa Hospital and pronounced dead upon arrival, at about 5:55 pm. Muhammad Walid Haniya, 32, was shot in the head by the IOF, while participating in the protests, approximately 150 metres away from the fence, also in the Malka area. Muhammad was transferred to Al-Shifa Hospital where he was pronounced dead upon arrival, at about 6:10 pm. Muhammad Bassam Shakhsa, 24, was shot in the head by the IOF, while protesting in the Malka area, east of Gaza city, approximately 150 metres away from the fence. Muhammad Shakhsa was also transferred to Al-Shifa Hospital where he was pronounced dead upon arrival, at about 6:25 pm.

On the same day, 12-year-old Nasser Azmi Misbeh, was shot in the head while participating in the Great Return March protests, approximately 150 metres away from the fence in Khuza’a, east of Khan Younis. Naser was transferred to the Gaza European Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at about 7:15 pm. Meanwhile, Muhammad Ali Anshasi, 18, was shot with a bullet in the right side of the stomach while participating in the protests, approximately 150 metres away from the fence in Khuza’a. Muhammad Anshasi was transferred to the Gaza European Hospital where he was pronounced dead at about 7:00 pm.

East of Al-Breij Refugee Camp, and approximately 150 metres away from the fence, 14-year-old Muhammad Nayef Al-Hom, was shot with a bullet in the chest by the IOF while participating in the Great Return March protests. Muhammad was transferred to Al-Aqsa Hospital in Deir Al-Balah where he was pronounced dead at about 6:00 pm. On the same evening, Muhammad Ashraf Al-Awawda, 25, was shot with a bullet that entered his chest and exited through his back. Muhammad was protesting about 150 metres away from the fence in East of Al-Breij Refugee Camp when he was shot by the IOF. He was transferred to Al-Aqsa Hospital and pronounced dead at about 9:25 pm of the same day.

Injuries

In the Gaza Governorate, 133 protestors were injured, including four children. Of the 133 injured, 83 were shot with live ammunition, while 20 others sustained injuries by tear gas canisters. In the Central Governorate, 10 protestors, including four children, were injured by the IOF. Of the 10, nine were injured by live ammunition, and one with a tear gas canister. In the Khan Younis Governorate, 31 protestors were injured, including seven children. Of the 31, 25 were injured by live ammunition. In the Rafah Governorate, 32 Palestinian protestors were injured, including 18 shot by live fire and five children.

28th Great Return March Protests, Friday, 5 October 2018

On Friday, 5 October 2018, the IOF killed three Palestinians and injured 222 protestors, including 33 children, as the Great Return March protests continued across the Gaza Strip. Of the 222 injured, 140 protestors were shot by the IOF’s live fire. One paramedic and three journalists were among the injured by live fire and tear gas canisters.

Killing

At approximately 5:40 pm, Mahmoud Akram Abu Sam’an, 23, was shot with a live bullet in the chest by the IOF while protesting near in Malka, east of Al-Zaytoun neighbourhood, east of Gaza city. Mahmoud was approximately 100 metres away from the fence when he was shot. He was transferred to Al-Shifa Hospital and was pronounced dead upon arrival, at about 5:55 pm. Also in the Malka area, and approximately 150 metres from the fence, 13-year-old Fares Hafeth Al-Sarsawi was shot with a live bullet in the chest. Fares was shot while participating in the Great Return March protests, approximately 150 metres away from the fence. He was transferred to Al-Shifa Hospital where he was pronounced dead at about 6:25 pm. Meanwhile, at about 5:40 pm, Hussein Fathi Al-Raqab, 19, was shot in the stomach by the IOF, approximately 150 metres way from the fence in Khuza’a, east Khan Younis. Hussein was transferred to Nasser Hospital where he underwent surgery, and was pronounced dead at about 8:45 on the same day.

Injuries

In the Gaza Governorate, 79 Palestinian protestors were injured, including four children. Of the 79, 44 were injured by live fire and 23 were injured by tear gas canisters. In the Khan Younis Governorate, 22 protestors were injured, including seven children. Of the 22, 16 were injured by live ammunition, including one paramedic and one journalist. Meanwhile, in the North Gaza Governorate, 59 Palestinian protestors were injured, including 15 children. Of the 59, 45 were injured by the IOF’s live ammunition, including nine children and a journalist. Fourteen others were injured by the tear gas canisters fired by the IOF, including six children, a journalist and two paramedics. In the Central Governorate, 29 protestors were injured, including 11 children; 16 of whom with live ammunition, and six with tear gas canisters. In the Rafah Governorate, 33 protestors were injured, including two children. Of the 33, 19 were injured by live fire, whereas 14 were injured directly by the IOF’s tear gas canisters.

Legal Analysis

Israel as the Occupying Power must respect, protect and fulfil the human rights of the Palestinian population in the Gaza Strip. As has been reiterated by inter alia the International Court of Justice and the United Nations Human Rights Committee, Israel continues to have human rights obligations towards the occupied population, also during occupation and armed conflict. In the absence of a situation of hostilities, such as that in relation to the Great Return March, Israel must act within the remits of international human rights law and as a law enforcement body. Palestinians have a right to assembly, expression, life, and self-determination. Al-Haq therefore takes the position that the peaceful protests must not be stifled and that the IOF must act with the presumption of safeguarding Palestinian rights including the right to life. The United Nations Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms state that law enforcement officials must as far as possible apply non-violent means, and only allows the use of firearms in a situation of self-defence or for the defence of others. The intentional deprivation of life may amount to a war crime that can be prosecuted at the International Criminal Court. In light of the ongoing escalation in the Gaza Strip, Al-Haq reiterates its call for the immediate protection of the occupied Palestinian population therein and elsewhere in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and that an independent, transparent and impartial investigation is urgently carried out to ensure accountability for perpetrators, in line with UN Human Rights Council resolution S-28/1 adopted on 18 May 2018.

[1] According to Al-Haq’s Monitoring and Documentation Department, 55 other Palestinians were killed in the OPT, including in the Gaza Strip, since 30 March 2018.

[2] Al-Haq continues to follow up on Shadi’s case and the reason of his death. At the moment, it is not possible to determine whether the object that hit Shadi had come from the IOF or Palestinian stone throwers.