PCHR: Israel deliberately used excessive force against Gaza protesters


The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) said that there was a political decision at the highest political level in Israel to use excessive force to suppress hundreds of thousands of civilians participating in fully peaceful protests, which were held on Friday within hundreds of meters away from the border fence with Israel.

In a report released on Saturday, PCHR affirmed that Israeli forces directly targeted protesters with no justification and without the latter posing threat or danger to life of soldiers.

According to observations by PCHR fieldworkers, dozens of Israeli snipers stationed behind mounds of dirt along the border fence, east of the Gaza Strip, sporadically and deliberately opened fire at the participants in the peaceful assemblies that included hundreds of thousands of civilians and concentrated in five areas in eastern Gaza.  As a result, civilians were directly killed or wounded.

The observations of PCHR fieldworkers revealed that the Israeli forces focused on targeting the participants in the back rows of the demonstration as they were falling one by one around 300 meters away from the border fence in addition to others who attempted in a few numbers to approach the fence. This proves that there is an official decision to kill and cause bodily harm to the demonstrators, in conformity with the policy of intimidation adopted by the Israeli forces, spokespersons, and officials during the past few days to reduce the public participation.

According to the center’s investigations, on Friday early morning, 30 March 2018, tens of thousands of civilians, including women and children, within entire families started swarming to five camps established by the higher national authority for organizing the march of return and breaking siege in eastern Rafah City, Khuza’a in Khan Younis, al-Bureij in central Gaza; Shuja’iyya neighborhood in Gaza City; and eastern Jabalia in northern Gaza.

Israeli forces early started to target the assemblies, which were fully peaceful, inflicting dozens of casualties.

Following the Friday prayer, the number of participants in the five assemblies increased, reaching to hundreds of thousands of men, elderlies, women and children.  They were standing dozens to hundreds meters away from the border fence and raising the Palestinian flags, while only a few numbers of them attempted to approach the border fence in order to throw stones and raise flags.

The Israeli forces fired live bullets at the protesters.  As a result, until 17:00 pm on Friday, eight protesters were killed, including two in eastern Jabalia, four in eastern Gaza City and two in eastern Rafah.  All of them were hit in the upper part of the body, head, chest and abdomen.

Moreover, 708 civilians were wounded, including 121 children, 26 women and one journalist, in addition to hundreds who suffered from tear gas inhalation after tear gas canisters were heavily fired by soldiers stationed along the border fence and by drones hovering over the protesters.

The report noted that the soldiers kept targeting the protesters after the death of those eight civilians, which led to an increase in victims’ number.

At approximately 04:30 pm, Israeli forces fired two artillery shells at two civilians who were collecting parcel from an agricultural land around 1,000 meters away from the border fence with Israel, east of al-Qararah.  As a result, one of them, namely Omer Wahid Abu Sammour, 27, was killed and arrived pieces at the Gaza European Hospital while the other sustained moderate wounds.  Both civilians had to wait half an hour in the scene until the medical crews could have access and take them to the hospital.

This huge number of victims proves that the Israeli forces, at the behest of their government, continue to commit further crimes and use excessive force against Palestinian civilians in disregard for their lives.

PCHR expressed its condemnation of this new massacre committed by the Israeli forces that resulted in this huge number of causalities, stressing it was as a result of the international community’s silence on Israel’s persistent crimes against the Palestinian people.

(Source / 01.04.2018)

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