Despite international condemnation, Israeli occupation forces opened fire at hundreds of unarmed Palestinian protesters who demonstrated along the border fence of the Gaza Strip on the third Friday of the “Great Return March”. Palestinian journalists, medical staff, and paramedics wearing distinct uniforms were targeted. Israeli forces employed lethal and other excessive force against the crowds, killing one protester and injuring 482, including 96 children, 13 women, 18 paramedics, and three journalists. One of the journalists was seriously injured. Of the 482 people injured, 205 were shot with live fire.
Al Mezan’s documentation shows that from the start of the protests on 30 March 2018 until the time of publication, 35 Palestinians have been killed, 28 of whom were killed in demonstrations, including one journalist and three children. Another 2,548 were injured, including 456 children, 83 women, 15 journalists, and 20 paramedics—1,495 of the injured were shot with live fire.
At 2pm on Friday, 13 April 2018, Israeli forces opened fire at Ahmed Abu Hussein, a 30-year-old journalist working for both Bisan News Agency and Al Sha’ab Radio. He was shot in the abdomen and critically wounded, according to medical sources at the Indonesian Hospital. Abu Hussein was wearing a “PRESS”-marked vest and “T.V.”-marked helmet when he was shot. Eye-witnesses reported to Al Mezan that Abu Hussein was about 200 meters away from the fence when he was shot. Witnesses also reported that Israeli forces attacked protesters with grenades that released a green gas—that were previously unseen and that when inhaled made the protesters nauseous, some passed out. The number of protesters injured in North Gaza totaled 61, including 13 children, three women, and two journalists—13 of them injured by live fire.
In the district of Gaza City, Islam Herzallah, 28-year-old resident of Gaza City, was killed by Israeli forces when they shot him in the back, which indicates that the unarmed civilian was shot when he posed no threat to the Israeli forces. Mohammed Al Hajjar, a 28-year-old freelance journalist, was shot in the right arm. At least 100 other protesters were injured, including 21 children, five women, and one journalist—74 of them injured by live fire.
In the district of Deir Al Balah in the middle of the Gaza Strip, 65 protesters were injured, including six children and one woman—37 of them injured by live fire.
In the district of Khan Younis, Israeli forces launched tear gas grenades at the field-based medical clinic established by the Ministry of Health; ten medical staff were affected by the tear gas, and the clinic was evacuated and temporarily ceased operation. The number of injured protesters in Khan Younis district totaled 110, including 20 children, two women, and ten paramedics—41 of them injured by live fire.
In the district of Rafah in the south of the Gaza Strip, Israel forces opened fire at dozens of protesters, injuring Ashraf Al Wawi, a 35-year-old paramedic working with the Palestinian Red Crescent Society, hitting him in the right leg. 146 protesters were injured in Rafah, including 36 children, two women, and eight paramedics—40 of them injured by live fire.
Al Mezan reiterates its strong condemnation of the use of lethal and other excessive force by Israeli forces, including sharpshooters, to police the peaceful demonstrations. The unarmed protesters, who pose no serious threat to the Israeli forces, have the right to peacefully assemble to demand their fundamental and inalienable human rights. The case of the protester lethally shot in the back indicates that Israeli forces continue to target protesters who are not threatening the safety of the soldiers, despite the unlawfulness of the practice and international condemnation.
Al Mezan calls on the international community to condemn the lethal and other excessive force used against Palestinian protesters in violation of international human rights law and amounting to the grave breach of willful killing under the Fourth Geneva Convention, and to urge Israel to protect and respect the protestors’ legitimate exercise of their rights to freedom of assembly and association.
The international community should take steps to ensure the protection of civilians in the occupied Palestinian territory, particularly in the Gaza Strip, including through seeking an end to the illegal Israeli closure regime. Al Mezan welcomes the calls from international institutions and civil society for accountability and protection of the civilian population. We especially urge the European Union and its member states to join these calls and to take concrete steps to denounce the violations of international law and ensure accountability.