UN finds 'reasonable grounds' Israeli forces violated human rights and committed war crimes at Gaza border

UN finds 'reasonable grounds' Israeli forces violated human rights and committed war crimes at Gaza border
Gaza Protesters in April, 2018.

An independent United Nations (UN) report into the demonstrations held in Gaza between March 30, 2018 and December 31, 2018 has found 'reasonable grounds' to believe that Israeli forces may have violated international human rights.

More than 6,000 unarmed demonstrators were shot by military snipers along the border fence separating Gaza and Israel during the Great March of Return last year.

Between 40,000 and 50,000 people, including children, attended the first day of the protests.

The Commission behind the report focused in particular on three days of the demonstrations between Israel and the State of Palestine which were:

  • March 30, 2018: 18 killed and over 700 shot
  • May 14, 2018: 60 killed and over 1,100 shot
  • October 12, 2018:7 killed and 186 injured by bullets or fragments of bullets

The Commission found that of the 189 Palestinians who were killed by Israeli Security Forces during the eight month period, 183 were killed with live ammunition.

It also found reasonable grounds to believe that Israeli snipers shot at journalists, health workers, children and persons with disabilities, knowing they were clearly recognizable as such.

The Commission found that two of the fatalities were clearly marked as journalists, three were clearly marked as paramedics, and thirty five were children.

Sara Hossain of Bangladesh said:

There can be no justification for killing and injuring journalists, medics, and persons who pose no imminent threat of death or serious injury to those around them.

"Particularly alarming is the targeting of children and persons with disabilities. Many young persons’ lives have been altered forever. 122 people have had a limb amputated since March 30 last year. Twenty of these amputees are children.

Chair of the Commission Santiago Canton of Argentina said:

“The onus is now on Israel to investigate every protest-related killing and injury, promptly, impartially and independently in accordance with international standards, to determine whether war crimes or crimes against humanity were committed, with a view to holding accountable those found responsible.

“We also urge the organisers, the demonstrators, and the de facto authorities in Gaza, to ensure that the Great March of Return is entirely peaceful, as it is intended to be.

The report found that the protests were civilian in nature and did not constitute combat or a military campaign.

Statistics from the demonstrations. Picture: UN Report/ Commission.
Statistics from the demonstrations. Picture: UN Report/ Commission.

“The Commission finds that these protests were a call for help from a population in despair.

“Not only Israel but also the de facto authorities led by Hamas and the Palestinian Authority have responsibilities towards them.

"The Commission calls on Israel to lift the blockade of Gaza, and on all three duty bearers to comply with their responsibilities and improve the living situation in Gaza.”

The commission carried out 325 interviews and meetings with victims, witnesses, and members of society form both sides. It also gathered more than 8,000 documents including drone footage.

Background

The blockade

The Gaza strip runs 42km along the coast and has one of the highest population densities in the world. Half of its two million population are children, who have extremely limited access to the rest of the Occupied Palestine Territory. This is dude to restrictions from Israel that began in the early 1990s, and when, in 2007, Israel declared Gaza a 'hostile territory' and imposed an air, land and sea blockade in a campaign of 'economic warfare'.

The refugees

Around 75% of Gazans are registered refugees living in camps and are among the descendants of 750,000 Palestinians who were displaced after the 1948 conflict. On December 6, 2017 United States (US) President Donald Trump announced that the US would move its embassy to Jerusalem, recognizing it as Israel's capital, sparking new demonstrations.

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