During the 48th week of the Great Return March demonstrations in Gaza, the Israeli forces continued to use on Palestinian protesters lethal and other forms of excessive force, from live ammunition and plastic-coated steel bullets to tear gas canisters. The documentation by Al Mezan Center for Human Rights shows that on Friday, 22 February 2019, Israeli forces killed a child and injured 137 protesters, including 18 children, eight women, and one journalist.
Al Mezan’s documentation shows that at approximately 4pm on Friday, Israeli forces shot Yousef Al-Daya, 14, who is a resident of Al-Zaitoun neighborhood in east Gaza City, with a live bullet in the chest at the demonstration in east Gaza. He was rushed to Al-Shifa Hospital, where he stayed at the intensive care unit until his death was pronounced at 5:50 pm on the same day.
Also on Friday, freelance photojournalist Moneeb Abu Hatab, 23, was hit by a tear gas canister in the stomach. He was taken to the Gaza European Hospital for treatment.
According to Al Mezan’s documentation, since the start of the protests on 30 March 2018, 267 Palestinians have been killed in the Gaza Strip. Of the total fatalities, 190 were killed at the protests, including 40 children, two women, two journalists, three paramedics, and eight persons with disability, including one child. Another 14,673 persons have been wounded, including 3,128 children, 653 women, 171 paramedics, and 148 journalists. Of those wounded, 7,750 were hit by live fire, including 1,433 children and 151 women.
Al Mezan condemns the use of lethal and other excessive force by the Israeli forces, including sharpshooters, to police demonstrations. Al Mezan also expresses deep concern at the continued attacks on unarmed protesters, medics and journalists. 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 paramount to the international community’s commitment to their legal obligations.