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.
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.
In 2000 the Israeli military blocked the road linking the southern Hebron neighborhood of Khirbet Qalqas (pop. 3,000) with the rest of the city. Ever since, residents have had to cross Route 60 on foot or travel by a roundabout route to reach the rest of the city. Six Palestinians have been killed crossing Route 60 in recent years. The military ignores residents’ demands to reopen the access road, and has met their protests with stun grenades and teargas. This is but another case of Israel’s repeated abuse of power, making decisions that radically disrupt Palestinians’ lives without consulting them. This situation will end only when the occupation does.
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.
In Feb. 2018 B’Tselem documented two cases in the Ramallah area in which soldiers, in contravention of the military’s own open-fire regulations, fired crowd control weapons at the heads of children. In both cases, neither the soldiers nor anyone else was in mortal danger. Muhammad Nubani, 14, was injured in the eye by a rubber-coated metal bullet; Saleh Yihya, 10, was hit in the head by a teargas canister fired directly at him. These children, like hundreds of others in the West Bank, will bear the lifelong consequences of a reality in which soldiers can fire unlawfully without anyone being held to account.
On 10 Mar. 2018, 20-30 settlers accompanied by three armed soldiers came from Yitzhar to ‘Urif village land. The settlers and villagers exchanged stones, and the soldiers fired crowd control measures and live ammunition at the Palestinians. After the settlers left, the soldiers remained and villagers threw stones at them. One soldier shot and killed ‘Omayr Shhadeh, 19, and injured a boy of 14. This is another instance in which soldiers protected settlers who enter Palestinian land and throw stones at local residents, while Israeli authorities consistently do not enforce the law in such cases.
Since the wave of protests near the Gaza-Israel fence began on 30 March 2018, the Israeli military has killed 32 Palestinians in Gaza, 26 of them demonstrators, and injured more than 1,000 with live fire. Despite the heavy toll on life and limb, all state and military officials refuse to cancel these manifestly unlawful open-fire orders and continue to issue – and justify – them. Ahead of this Friday’s demonstrations (13 April), B’Tselem has issued a position paper on its findings regarding the first day of protest, analyzing the illegality of orders to shoot at unarmed demonstrators who pose no danger to anyone.
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.