The escalation of attacks by Israeli forces against the civilian population of the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) continues, with attacks being justified by alleged stabbing attacks. In several incidents, these false claims appear to be taken as a cover-up attacks and killings of Palestinian civilians. These claims make up a shield of immunity for Israeli forces and settlers who are engaging in violence towards the Palestinian communities in the West Bank, including Jerusalem.
In the Gaza Strip, the Israeli forces continue to carry out attacks that amount to violations of international law, including opening fire at civilians who did not pose a threat to the lives of Israeli soldiers. The toll of fatalities in Gaza has reached 14 (all of whom are civilians) since the start of the protests in the Gaza Strip on Friday, 9 October 2015. Five of the victims are children. At least 657people were injured from live and plastic-coated bullets and by tear gas and sound grenades, including 63 children and three women. 185 of the people injured sustained live bullet wounds. Al Mezan Center for Human Rights strongly condemns the escalation in attacks against and killings of civilians by Israeli forces. Al Mezan warns of further deterioration in the situation and the perpetuation of Israeli violations in the oPt if the silence and failure of the international community to provide the due protection for civilians continues.
According to Al Mezan’s documentation, at approximately 2:00 pm on Friday, 16 October 2015, the Israeli forces opened fire and launched tear gas at a popular solidarity event. The protest in solidarity with Jerusalem and the broader West Bank included hundreds of young men and children at Erez crossing. The clashes between the Israeli forces and the young men at Erez crossing and its surrounding areas ended at 9:00 pm on the same day. As a result, 123 civilians were injured, including four children and seven medical personnel. 27 of the victims sustained bullet wounds, 33 sustained plastic coated bullet wounds, 15 civilians were injured by tear gas canisters, and 48 civilians were suffocated by tear gas canisters. Medical sources at Kamal Odwan and Al Awda Hospitals described the injury of three civilians as critical.
At approximately 1:00 pm on Saturday, 17 October 2015, the Israeli forces fired tear gas canisters at a solidarity event that included a number of young men and minors. As a result, seven civilians were suffered breathing difficulty from tear gas, including Talal Abu Zarifa, a member of the political bureau of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and a woman, Mrs. Mariam Al Khateeb, 32. Medical sources at Kamal Odwan and Al Awda hospitals described their condition as light.
At approximately 4:00 pm on Friday, 16 October 2015, the Israeli forces that were positioned east of the neighborhood of Al Sheja’iya, east Gaza City, opened fire, shot rubber-coated bullets, and launched tear gas canisters at a group of civilian demonstrators. Mahmoud Hatem Hmeed, 23, was shot in the head and was killed. Another 67 civilians were injured, including six children. At least 30 of the victims, including two children, sustained bullet wounds. Three of them sustained critical injuries. The clashes ended at 9:30 pm on the same day.
During the past four days, the Israeli forces also opened fire and launched tear gas canisters at demonstrators east of Al Bureij refugee camp in Middle Gaza district. As a result, 78 civilians, including paramedics and journalists, were injured. 24 of the victims sustained bullet wounds. In the most recent demonstration in this area, at approximately 3:15 pm on Saturday 17 October 2015, Israeli forces opened fire at demonstrators, injuring 10 civilians, including four paramedics. Four of the wounded sustained live bullet wounds. Two ambulances of the Palestinian Red Crescent Society were damaged as the Israeli forces launched tear gas canisters directly at the ambulances. Journalist Mahmoud Omar Al Louh, 25, was injured from inhaling tear gas.
At approximately 2:00 pm on Friday, 16 October 2015, tens of people gathered near the separation fence in the Al Faraheen area in Abassan, and in the east of the village of Khuza’a, in eastern Khan Younis. Young men were present and threw stones towards the fortified Israeli forces, who opened fire sporadically and launched tear gas at the demonstrators. As a result, 19 civilians sustained bullet wounds. Journalist Muthana Al Najjar, 30, was injured when a tear gas canister hit at his chest directly as he was reporting on the incident in Al Faraheen. A paramedic and an ambulance driver suffered inhalation problems when a tear gas canister fell inside an ambulance for the Palestinian Red Crescent Society. Medical sources described their condition as moderate. Tens of other civilians also suffered injuries from inhaling tear gas.
Al Mezan Center for Human Rights strongly condemns the violations perpetrated by Israeli forces against civilians in the oPt. Al Mezan asserts that many of the practices carried out by Israel’s occupation forces represent serious and systematic violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law. These violations, which must be seen in the context of Israel's continued closure/blockade of Gaza, land grab practices, policy of separation, willful killing, and repression continue in the West Bank, including Jerusalem, testify to Israel's intention to maintain its unlawful occupation of the oPt. The repression of the Palestinian people, by the State of Israel through its armed forces and authorities, is the predominate mechanism used to deny Palestinians their inalienable right to self-determination. The repression continues without any meaningful intervention by the international community.
Therefore, Al Mezan calls on the international community to uphold its legal obligations under international law to provide due protection for civilians on the one hand, and to take action to enable the Palestinian people to achieve their right to self-determination on the other. Al Mezan asserts that the failure to act and the silence of the international community towards the Israeli violations has encouraged Israel to perpetuate policies and practices that constitute violations of international law. This silence must stop.