During the thirty-third week of the Great Return March demonstrations in Gaza the Israeli military continued to use lethal and other forms of excessive force on Palestinian protesters and paramedics. The documentation by Al Mezan Center for Human Rights shows that at 3:10pm on Friday, 9 November 2018, Israeli forces used live ammunition, plastic-coated steel bullets, and tear gas canisters, killing one protester and wounding 149 others, including 17 children, ten women, and five women. Of the wounded, 69 sustained injuries from live ammunition, including ten children, one woman. Three of the wounded suffered serious wounds.
Al Mezan’s documentation indicates a trend of Israeli soldiers shooting protesters in the upper part of the bodies, which has led to the fatal injury of Rami Qahman, 28, who was shot with a live bullet in the neck at 4:05pm on Friday and was pronounced dead by doctors at the European Gaza Hospital at 8:40pm on the same day. Qahman, a resident of Al-Shabora neighborhood in Rafah district, was injured during his participation in the demonstration in east Rafah in the south of the Gaza Strip.
Moreover, five protesters who had had been wounded at the demonstrations in previous weels were pronounced dead. Al Mezan has identified them as follows:
Al Mezan documented the continued wounding of members of the medical teams:
The latest four paramedics were injured while providing medical care to casualties in east Jabalia refugee camp in the North Gaza district.
Al Mezan’s documentation shows that from the start of the Great Return March protests on 30 March 2018, 234 Palestinians have been killed in the Gaza Strip. Of the total fatalities, 174 were killed at the demonstrations—including 33 children, one woman, two journalists, three paramedics, and six persons with disability, including one child. Another 12,482 persons have been wounded, including 2,394 children, 515 women, 136 paramedics, and 134 journalists. Of those wounded, 6,964 were hit by live fire, including 1,227 children and 142 women. The Israeli forces continue to keep the bodies of 11 fatalities, including three minors.
Al Mezan reiterates its condemnation of the use of lethal and other excessive force by the Israeli forces, including sharpshooters, to police demonstrations. Al Mezan expresses deep concern at the continued attacks on children, as well as on paramedics, who are visibly marked as such. Al Mezan stresses that the right to peaceful assembly and free expression are fundamental rights and must be respected. Unarmed protesters not posing any serious or imminent threat to the Israeli forces must not be shot.
Al Mezan urges the international community to take prompt and effective action to ensure respect for international law and provide meaningful protection for unarmed protesters throughout Gaza. The duty to protect protected persons is a principal legal requirement and is, at this point in the conflict, a test of the authenticity of the international community’s commitment to their legal obligations, moral standards and humanitarian objectives vis-à-vis the Palestinian population.
The failure to hold to account perpetrators of human rights abuses encourages the advancement of harmful policies and practices. Al Mezan therefore calls on the international community to support accountability mechanisms and ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice in accordance with international law. In this vein, the international community is called upon to support the UN Commission of Inquiry’s impartial and independent investigation into the apparent unlawful deployment of force against the unarmed protesters, journalists and paramedics.