On 9 August 2018, Israel’s air force dropped a guided bomb on the home of the Abu Khamash family in Deir al-Balah, killing a pregnant woman and her toddler. The bomb was dropped as part of a massive exchange of fire between Israel and armed operatives in the Gaza Strip, who fired rockets at Israeli communities injuring 23 people, one of them seriously. Firing missiles in densely-populated areas such as the Gaza Strip by definition endangers civilians. Israel has killed thousands of civilians in Gaza with airstrikes. As Israel insists that this patently illegal policy is lawful, no one has been held accountable for the horrifying outcomes.
On 1 June 2018, during a protest held north of Khuza’ah in the Gaza Strip, Israeli security forces deliberately fired at Palestinian paramedics who were clearly identified as medical crew and were 25 meters from the fence: Rozan a-Najar, a 20-year-old paramedic from Khza’ah was killed; two others were wounded. Since the Gaza protests began in late March, security forces have killed 127 protesters, including at least 18 minors, and wounded some 4,100 people with live fire. The military persists in this lethal policy despite its predictable outcome from the very outset.
Since 30 March 2018, at protests near the Gaza fence, over 3,600 Palestinians have been injured by Israeli live gunfire, and dozens – incl. at least 12 minors – have been killed. Gaza’s healthcare system, already failing after a decade under Israeli blockade, cannot provide them the care they need. Rehabilitation options are also few and too expensive for most. Israel is responsible for this situation: it ordered the unlawful shooting, brought the Gazan healthcare system to the verge of collapse and is denying rehabilitation, in or out of Gaza. These are the stories of three boys who were injured. Two have lost a leg. Their lives will never be the same.
The demonstrations held in Gaza today came as no surprise. Israel had plenty of time to come up with alternate approaches for dealing with the protests, apart from firing live ammunition. The fact that live gunfire is once again the sole measure that the Israeli military is using in the field evinces appalling indifference towards human life on the part of senior Israeli government and military officials. B’Tselem calls for an immediate halt to the killing of Palestinian demonstrators. If the relevant officials do not issue an order to stop the lethal fire, the soldiers in the field must refuse to comply with these manifestly unlawful open-fire orders.
Since 30 March 2018, more than 2,000 Palestinians have been injured by Israeli live fire at protests near the Gaza fence. Doctors there report unusually severe injuries and the healthcare system, already failing after a decade of Israeli blockade, cannot provide proper care. Rehabilitation options are also few and too expensive for most. Israel is responsible for this state of affairs: it ordered the unlawful shooting, brought the Gazan healthcare system to the verge of collapse and is denying the wounded rehabilitation – in or out of Gaza.
Ahead of today’s UN Security Council's open debate at 5:00 P.M. (Israel time), and as the demonstrations along the Gaza-Israel fence are expected to continue, B’Tselem Executive Director Hagai El-Ad sent UN Secretary-General António Guterres a letter listing the names of the 35 Palestinians protestors shot to death by Israeli forces in Gaza in recent weeks, four of whom were minors. El-Ad called upon the UN to do “all that is in its power – and its responsibility – in order to protect Palestinian lives and uphold international norms”, with the goal of immediately ending the illegal shooting of unarmed demonstrators in Gaza.
The order to shoot at civilians who pose no danger to is manifestly illegal. Usage of lethal force is permitted only when there is a clear and present danger to life, as a last resort. The responsibility for issuing manifestly illegal orders lies primarily with the policy makers, including the prime minister, the defense minister and the chief of staff. It is forbidden to give and to obey to such orders. Click to read names of protestors shot and killed in Gaza demonstrations under manifestly illegal orders issued under the direction of the government and the senior military command. Over 1,500 others were injured by live fire.
B’Tselem’s investigation has found that soldiers fired teargas at men, women and children engaged in peaceful activities in tents pitched hundreds of meters from the fence during the recent Gaza protests. This is neither lawful nor justified: Israel has no right to disperse demonstrations inside Gaza or tell Gazans where they can be. It certainly may not fire teargas at demonstrators hundreds of meters from the fence who pose no threat to a soul.
Israel’s regime of occupation is inextricably bound up in human rights violations. B’Tselem strives to end the occupation, as that is the only way forward to a future in which human rights, democracy, liberty and equality are ensured to all people, both Palestinian and Israeli, living between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.