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Attacks on Unarmed Protesters at “Great March of Return” Demonstrations

30 March 2018 – 28 February 2019


This report addresses the Israeli forces’ conduct toward Palestinian protesters who have been participating in the “Great March of Return” (GMR) demonstrations in the Gaza Strip. The demonstrators are demanding an end to Israel’s illegal 11-year closure imposed on Gaza and stressing the right of return of Palestinian refugees as enshrined in international law. The Israeli military’s conduct since the start of the protests on 30 March 2018 rises to the level of serious violations of human rights and demonstrates the Israeli government’s failure, as occupying power, to fulfil its obligations under international human rights law (IHRL) and international humanitarian law (IHL).


Providing a factual and legal analysis, this report gives an overview of the violations of IHRL that stem from the unlawful killing and wounding of protesters, journalists and medics between 30 March 2018 and 28 February 2019. The monitoring and documentation conducted by Al Mezan Center for Human Rights (Al Mezan) of the demonstrations shows that Israeli soldiers, including sharpshooters, consistently used force against individuals who did not pose an imminent threat of death or serious injury to others when they were shot, and by doing so, repeatedly deviated from international law rules and obligations. This conduct amounted to serious violation of the fundamental right to life of 190 Palestinian protesters, journalists and medics—including children, women and people with disability—who were killed during the reporting period.


This report is based on Al Mezan’s fieldwork and in particular, the affidavits and evidence that the fieldworkers and lawyers recorded. These affidavits speak to the root causes of the protests, and the several forms of direct and indirect violence carried out on a daily basis against civilians in Gaza, often through unlawful conduct. Al Mezan also shares a number of key recommendations that call for the protection, respect and fulfilment of the human rights of the civilian population in Gaza, as part of the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), and for the cycle of impunity to be ended.

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Tags / #peaceful assembly #buffer zone #IHL #march of return