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In Almost All Cases UN Commission of Inquiry Finds the Use of Live Ammunition by Israeli Forces Against Demonstrators Unlawful and Recommends Accountability Measures;

Al Mezan Welcomes the Critical Report

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28 February 2019 |Reference 20/2019

Al Mezan welcomes the short report of the UN Commission of Inquiry on the 2018 protests in the occupied Palestinian territory (Commission), published today. The commission investigated use of force during the first nine months of the widescale, grassroots-initiated protests that started on 30 March 2018. The report concluded that with the possible exception of two incidents “the commission found reasonable grounds to believe that, in all other cases, the use of live ammunition by Israeli security forces against demonstrators was unlawful”.[1] Al Mezan’s monitoring and documentation of the ongoing protests supports this conclusion, which is grounded in the fact that “the demonstrations were civilian in nature […] and did not constitute combat or a military campaign”.[2]


The report confirms that the legal framework applicable to policing the protests was that of law enforcement, and adopts the framework of international human rights law, which Al Mezan and partners used in arguments for an urgent injunction on Israel’s use of force before the High Court of Justice.[3] The Court’s decision to reject the petition, along with the failure of the domestic judicial system to provide accountability and justice, has allowed the Israeli military’s unlawful use of force to continue as of time of publication.


Since 30 March 2018, Al Mezan has documented the killing of 190 Palestinians at the protests, including 40 children, two journalists, three paramedics, and eight persons with disability—groups warranting protection under international law as confirmed by the Commission. Another 14,673 persons have been wounded, with 3,128 children, 148 journalists and 171 paramedics among them. Of those wounded, 7,750 were hit by live fire, including 1,433 children. The Commission gravely concluded that children, journalists, health workers, and persons with disabilities were all shot intentionally, despite being visible as groups warranting protection.


Within the context of prolonged closure that has driven Gaza into a humanitarian catastrophe and prompted the tens of thousands of protesters to form the Great March of Return, the Commission acknowledged significant barriers in accessing the right to health—both in terms of getting access to appropriate care in Gaza for wounded protesters and in being transferred to hospitals outside of Gaza when care is unavailable in the local system.


Al Mezan’s longstanding engagement with the Israeli justice system demonstrates that the system is clearly unwilling to provide for genuine criminal investigations and accountability, including in the case of the protests. Pointing to the system’s consistent failure in this regard, the Commission puts forth a number of practical recommends, including a call that “States parties to the Geneva Conventions and/or to the Rome Statute carry out their duty to exercise criminal jurisdiction and arrest persons alleged to have committed, or who ordered to have committed, the international crimes described in the […] report”.[4]

Within the context of Al Mezan’s cooperation with the International Criminal Court as the legal representative of victims, survivors and their families, Al Mezan strongly notes the Commission’s analysis that the violations of international law referenced in the report may constitute war crimes or crimes against humanity and recalls that without accountability the violations are expected to continue.


The full report by the Commission is set to be published in mid-March 2019. Al Mezan will provide further analysis at that time.


[1] Report of the UN Commission of Inquiry on the 2018 protests in the OPT, 28 Feb. 2019. Available at: para. 94

[2] Ibid footnote 1, para. 32

[3] Al Mezan & Adalah, “Israeli Supreme Court fully adopts Israeli army’s position, gives green light to continued use of live fire, snipers against Gaza protesters”, 25 May 2018. Available at:

[4] Ibid footnote 1, para. 128