On 6 July 2018, the fifteenth Friday of the mass demonstrations, Israeli forces opened fire at Palestinian protesters along the fence between Israel and the Gaza Strip. One protester was killed, and at least 146 were injured, including 26 children, four women, one journalist, and five paramedics. 59 of the injured were hit by live fire, and two are in critical condition.
Al Mezan’s documentation shows that from 4pm on Friday, 6 July 2018, Israeli forces located at the eastern fence between Gaza and Israel used live ammunition, plastic-coated bullets, and tear gas on unarmed protesters. Israeli shooting continued until 8pm on the same day. Al Mezan has documented the fatal injury of Mohammed Abu Halima, 22-year old resident of Shujayya neighborhood in east Gaza City, who was wounded with live fire in the chest at around 7pm on the same day. Abu Halima was shot during his participation in the demonstration in east Gaza City, and he was then rushed to Al Shifa Hospital, where at 7:35pm doctors announced his death as a result of his wounds.
As part of an ongoing policy, Israeli forces further continued to target journalists and paramedics. On the same day, one journalist and five paramedics were injured as Israeli forces targeted them directly with their live ammunition, plastic-coated steel bullets, and tear-gas canisters.
Al Mezan’s documentation shows that from the start of the Great Return March protests on 30 March 2018, 146 Palestinians have been killed, of them 112 in protests, including 18 children, two journalists, two paramedics, and three persons with disability. Another 7,966 people were injured, including 1,406 children, 304 women, 76 paramedics, and 73 journalists—of them 4,045 were hit by live fire.
Al Mezan reiterates its strong condemnation of the use of lethal and other excessive force by the Israeli forces, including sharpshooters, to police demonstrations and to target journalists and paramedics. Al Mezan stresses its strongest condemnation of continuous Israeli attacks on paramedics whose service adheres to the standards of impartiality and neutrality. Further, Palestinians in Gaza have the right to peacefully assemble to demand their fundamental and inalienable human rights. The case of protesters who pose no serious threat to the Israeli forces being shot lethally indicates a bold continuation of unlawful targeting practices, despite its legal consequences and international condemnation.
Al Mezan calls for the implementation of Resolution (A/HRC/S-28/L.1) of the UN Human Rights Council, which mandates an independent international commission of inquiry to investigate all violations committed in the context of the large-scale protests. Al Mezan calls for the commission to be formed swiftly and dispatched for the benefit of justice and accountability.
As the humanitarian and legal implications of the recent escalation, Al Mezan is urging the international community to take prompt steps to protect protesters and their right to peaceful assembly, to pressure Israeli forces to abstain from using unlawful force, to hold to account perpetrators and to ensure Palestinians’ access to their indispensable and inalienable human rights. Given strangulating impacts of Israel’s 11-year closure of Gaza and the unprecedented surge of unemployment and poverty, and the severe shortage of electricity and water supplies, and rampant environmental pollution, Al Mezan is requesting that the international community increase its humanitarian and development aid to address living conditions in the Gaza Strip, and to insist on the immediate, full lifting of the unlawful closure policy so as to allow for the rapid relief of the civilian population.