[News] Rights groups slam Israeli 'crimes' in Gaza, say 'shooting unarmed civilians illegal'

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Mon Apr 2 11:29:54 EDT 2018


  Rights groups slam Israeli 'crimes' in Gaza, say 'shooting unarmed
  civilians illegal'

March 31, 2018 - http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=779992
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Human rights organizations have come out in full 
condemnation of Israel’s violent response to massive unarmed civilian 
protests in Gaza on Friday, which left 16 Palestinians - one farmer and 
15 protesters -- dead <https://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=779990> 
along the Gaza border.

Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights, released a statement 
on Friday condemning Israel’s use of military snipers against the 
civilian protesters.

“The Israeli military’s use of 100 snipers against unarmed Palestinian 
civilian protesters in the Gaza Strip is illegal, the statement said, 
adding “live gunfire on unarmed civilians constitutes a brutal violation 
of the international legal obligation to distinguish between civilians 
and combatants.”

“Israel is obligated to act in accordance with international law,” 
Adalah said, adding that it will be calling for an investigation into 
those responsible for the deaths in Gaza, and “will demand that those 
found responsible for the killings be brought to justice.”

According to the group, on Thursday, the day before 16 Palestinians were 
shot dead along the border with Gaza, Adalah and the Gaza-based al-Mezan 
Center for Human Rights sent a letter to Israeli Attorney General 
Avichai Mandelblit and the Israeli Military Advocate General “demanding 
they act to prevent the use of sniper fire against protesters or for 
crowd dispersion, and to clearly and directly order Israeli forces to 
refrain from use of live ammunition of any variety – including sniper fire.”

The groups also sent a second letter calling on the Israeli military “to 
remove all social media posts threatening participants in today’s Gaza 
march that they will be military targets and also remove social media 
posts threatening the civilian population in Gaza.”

Leading up to the march, the Israeli army released a statement saying it 
had declared the border area along Gaza a “closed military zone,” 
meaning that any Palestinian who got close to the border fence could 
risk getting shot.

The Israeli army released statements on Twitter describing the protests 
as “violent riots.”Meanwhile, Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem 
released a statement 
<https://www.btselem.org/press_releases/20180329_gaza_strip_not_a_combat_zone>on 
Thursday, condemning the repeated threats of Israeli officials to use 
lethal force against the civilian protesters.

“Completely ignoring the humanitarian disaster in Gaza and Israel’s 
responsibility for it, they are couching the planned protest in terms of 
a security risk, framing the demonstrators as terrorists and referring 
to Gaza as a ‘combat zone’,” B’Tselem said.

“Fragments of information reported by the media indicate that: soldiers 
will be ordered to shoot anyone coming within 300 meters of the fence; 
snipers will fire at anyone touching it; live fire will be used also in 
circumstances which are non-life-threatening.

In other words: shoot-to-kill unarmed Palestinians taking part in these 
demonstrations,” the group said. B’Tselem highlighted that Israel’s 
policy of lethally shooting Palestinian demonstrators in Gaza has been 
in practice for some time, noting that “in December 2017 alone – the 
most lethal month in the last year – Israeli forces shot and killed 
eight unarmed Palestinian demonstrators in Gaza.”

“Israel’s presumption that it can dictate the actions of Palestinians 
inside the Gaza Strip is absurd. The decision where and whether and how 
to demonstrate in Gaza is not Israel’s to make – not with regard to 
tomorrow’s demonstrations nor in general with regard to daily life,” 
B’Tselem said. The group concluded by noting that official Israeli 
statements” have made no reference to the actual reason for the protest 
– the disastrous reality in Gaza – or to the right to free protest.”

“Israel has the power to immediately change life in Gaza for the better, 
but has chosen not to do so. It has made Gaza a huge prison, yet forbids 
the prisoners even to protest against this, on pain of death.”

The majority of the nearly two million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip 
are sealed inside the coastal enclave due to the continuation of the 
military blockade imposed by Israel and upheld by Egypt on the southern 
border.

The destruction from three Israeli offensives over the past six years, 
including damage to the enclave’s water, sanitation, energy, and medical 
facilities, coupled with slow reconstruction due to the blockade led the 
UN in September to warn that Gaza could be “uninhabitable” by 2020.
-- 
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