Brussels, 13 April 2018
Ahead of todays’ planned demonstrations in the Gaza Strip, EuroMed Rights and FIDH are calling on the European Union to urge Israel to refrain from using lethal or excessive force against unarmed protesters, which has already resulted in the unlawful killings and injury of about 2,000 Palestinians over the past two weeks.
Since 29 March, Palestinian and international human rights organisations have continually warned Israeli authorities about the illegality of the use of live ammunition against unarmed demonstrators, which will inevitably result in increased civilian casualties. However, the Israeli military has confirmed that they did not intend to change their open-fire policy. This was demonstrated again during the second round of protests last Friday, as 10 Palestinians were killed and 832 were wounded, including protestors, journalists and medics.
If Israel’s open-fire policy continues in Gaza, there is a high risk of further killings and injuries of Palestinian protesters. Several United Nations human rights experts, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court have already condemned the killings and recalled that the use of lethal force against unarmed demonstrators is strictly prohibited by international law.
Since 30 March 2018, Israeli authorities killed 25 Palestinians taking part in the protests, including three children, and one journalist. About 2,000 have been wounded, including 342 children and 76 women. Among those injured, at least 1,150 were shot with live ammunition and around 40 remain in serious or critical condition.
It is essential that the European Union and its Member States join the international community concerns and, in particular:
- Condemn the use of lethal force in contravention with international law and call on Israel to stop its shoot-to-kill policy against peaceful protesters;
- Recognise the right of all people to free expression and association to assert their demands, including the population of the Gaza Strip who is protesting Israel’s blockade and asserting the right of refugees to return; and
- Support the calls for impartial, prompt and credible investigations into the suspected unlawful killings of unarmed protesters during the past two weeks.