On 10 Aug. 2018, thousands of Palestinians held a demonstration east of Rafah. Some burned tires and threw stones at Israeli forces on the other side of the fence. The forces fired tear gas and live bullets, killing three demonstrators. B'Tselem found that two of those killed were not endangering the forces in any way. These fatalities are the direct result of Israel’s open-fire policy, and another example of the lack of concern shown by Israeli authorities for Palestinian life and limb.
In protests near the Gaza fence from 30 March to 8 Oct. 2018, Israeli forces shot and killed at least 166 Palestinians, 31 of them minors, and injured more than 5,300 with live gunfire. Most of those killed or injured did not endanger the forces, who were on the other side of the fence. The high casualty count is a direct result of Israel’s open-fire policy in the area. Its lethal outcomes, which are well-known, convey the Israeli authorities’ disregard for the life and death of Palestinians. Testimonies regarding the killing of four of the minors follow.
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.
For the last 5 years, the military has raided al-Jalazun R.C. once a week, on average. Two recent raids included arrests, live fire and incursions into nine homes, with damage to property. Night raids have become a staple of the occupation regime in the West Bank, where the military has adopted sweeping arbitrary powers. Abusing civilians as a form of intimidation and pressure is unjustified and constitutes collective punishment, which is prohibited under international law. This is yet another example of daily life under occupation.
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.
On 6 June 2018 Israeli soldiers entered the Palestinian village of a-Nabi Saleh. Two young men threw stones at a soldier, and one stone apparently struck his helmet. The young men fled, but one of them, ‘Iz a-Din Tamimi, was hit in the back and died soon after. This lethal shooting was unlawful and unjustified, but no one will be held to account. The media reported that the Military Police has opened an investigation, but experience shows that this is intended solely to deflect criticism of the military and will almost certainly end without any results.
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.
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.