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.
Since 30 March 2018, more than 2,000 Palestinians have been injured by Israeli live fire at protests near the Gaza fence. Doctors there report unusually severe injuries and the healthcare system, already failing after a decade of Israeli blockade, cannot provide proper care. Rehabilitation options are also few and too expensive for most. Israel is responsible for this state of affairs: it ordered the unlawful shooting, brought the Gazan healthcare system to the verge of collapse and is denying the wounded rehabilitation – in or out of Gaza.
More than fifteen Israeli human rights organization respond today to the Israeli government's decision to deport Omar Shakir, Israel and Palestine Director at Human Rights Watch. Israel’s decision to deport a Human Rights Watch official, and the growing list of people to whom it denies entry for criticizing of the occupation, place Israel squarely on a list of disreputable states. The governments of such states try to control people’s minds, thoughts and actions, instead of safeguarding people’s freedom of speech, and their freedom to act and protest government policies. Particularly worrying is the fact that Israeli authorities compile “personal dossiers” on foreign nationals because of things they have said or for having taken part in legitimate political activities.
On 6 March 2018, some 30 settlers coming from the direction of Yitzhar attacked two Palestinian men working on ‘Einabus village land. After the two escaped, the settlers retreated and returned with soldiers, entering into mutual stone-throwing with residents rallied on the village loudspeaker. The soldiers joined the assault with live fire, “rubber” bullets and teargas. Six residents were injured. Such attacks, which keep Palestinians away from their land, are part of the occupation routine, which Israel exploits to grab more land.
On 4 Feb. 2018, 20 members of the Qabaha family from the village of Tura al-Gharbiya who work in a settlement industrial zone discovered that their work permits had suddenly been revoked. For nearly three months, Israel has been denying them and their families their livelihood without offering any explanation. This is but another example that illustrates the injurious impact of Israel’s policies in the Occupied Territories, the military’s arbitrary and indiscriminate use of power, and the blanket denial of Palestinians’ rights in the West Bank.
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.
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.