Letters and Appeals

At 28th Special Session of UN Human Rights Council on the deteriorating human rights situation in the oPt, Al Mezan demands an international inquiry

Oral Submission to the United Nations Human Rights Council

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18 May 2018

Friday, 18 May 2018

International Inquiry Needed

Mr. President,


On April 23rd 2018, Al Mezan filed a joint urgent petition to the Israeli Supreme Court demanding that it order the Israeli military to stop using snipers and live ammunition to disperse Palestinian protesters participating in the March of Return in Gaza. We argued that the open-fire policy being used is patently illegal and excessive, as evidenced by the high number of deaths and injuries.


Since the start of the protests, Israel has attempted to justify its military’s conduct with unfounded claims that Hamas is using the protesters as human shields in order to carry out military attacks,[1] while in parallel, the Israeli military has been firing at thousands of unarmed protesters, killing 86 people within the context of the demonstrations, and wounding another 11,000.[2]


The reality is that Israel knows full well that there is no legal basis to support its open-fire policy.


In its response to our arguments before the Supreme Court, the State invented a new legal framework that supposedly governs the use of force in these circumstances, which would "justify [...] the killing of persons based on the fact that they are part of a crowd of protesters, and regardless of whether or not they present an immediate threat to anyone". This framework clearly has no basis in international law, and using it led to the devastating loss of life on the 14th of May.


The State plays legal gymnastics instead of fulfilling its obligations to abide by the law in dealing with unarmed protesters.


We therefore call on the members of the Human Rights Council to vote for the resolution and urgently establish a Commission of Inquiry with a view to:


  • Investigating what happened during the seven weeks of protest that resulted in the killing of dozens of unarmed civilian protesters and the injury of 11,000;
  • ensuring that those individuals and commanders found to be responsible are publicly named; and
  • facilitating and expediting existing international investigations and examinations.


While numerous legal experts concluded that Israel is unwilling or unable to conduct independent, transparent investigations, including the UN Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza conflict, nothing has so far altered the state of institutionalized impunity in Israel. We therefore urge the Council to encourage the International Criminal Court to urgently open a full investigation into alleged international crimes committed.


Finally, we call for an immediate end to the illegal closure and blockade of the Gaza Strip, a collective punishment, which has resulted in devastating and inhumane living conditions for the 2 million Palestinians in Gaza, and is a root cause for the protests.



Thank you.


[1] See for example, the statement by Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon, Tuesday, 15 May 2018, at: https://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/WATCH-LIVE-UN-Security-Council-discusses-Gaza-border-protests-556489

[2] According to Al Mezan’s documentation