Reports and Studies

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

A Two-Year Report from the Start of Demonstrations on 30 March 2018

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1 April 2020

This report addresses the Israeli forces’ military conduct toward Palestinian protesters participating in the “Great March of Return” demonstrations in the Gaza Strip. The demonstrators are demanding an end to Israel’s illegal 13-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 comprises serious violation of the rights of protesters, including the right to life, amounting to serious international crimes, and demonstrates the Israeli government’s failure, as occupying power, to fulfil its obligations under international law. 


Providing a factual and legal analysis, this report gives an overview of the violations of international law that stem from the unlawful killing and wounding of protesters, journalists and medics within the two years since the start of the demonstrations and until 28 March 2020. The monitoring and documentation conducted by Al Mezan Center for Human Rights 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, the Israeli military repeatedly deviated from the fundamental rules and Israel’s obligations under international law. This unlawful conduct resulted in the death of 217 Palestinian protesters, journalists and medics—including children and people with disability—who were killed during the reporting period.