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Great Return March Protests Continue for 68th and 69th Weeks in the Gaza Strip

Saturday, 10 August 2019 18:26
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Date: 10 August 2019

One Palestinian was killed in Khan Younis and 69 protesters were injured on Friday, 26 July 2019, during the 68th Great Return March demonstrations in the occupied Gaza Strip. Amongst the injured, 44 demonstrators were wounded with live bullets and bullet shrapnel, 18 were hit by rubber bullets, and seven were injured by direct gas canister hits. Of the total number of injuries, 29 were children. On Friday, 2 August 2019, during the 69th Great Return March demonstrations, 67 Palestinians were injured by the Israeli occupying forces throughout the Gaza Strip. Of the injured, 27 were wounded with live bullets and shrapnel, 20 were wounded with rubber bullets, and 20 were injured by direct gas canister hits. Amongst the injured were 29 children, two journalists, and a paramedic.

68th Great Return March Demonstrations on 26 July 2019

On Friday, 26 July 2019, the Israeli occupying forces targeted peaceful Palestinian protesters participating in the 68th Great Return March demonstrations across the Gaza Strip. According to Al-Haq’s field research and documentation, thousands of Palestinians, including youth, children, the elderly and entire families, gathered between 4:00 pm and 7:00 pm in the vicinity of the five return camps set up near the fence to the east of the Gaza Strip. During the peaceful demonstrations, participants organized, as usual, popular and folkloric activities inside and around the camp areas. They chanted national slogans and raised Palestinian flags. Dozens of demonstrators, including children, gathered at distances of 50 to 300 metres from the Gaza fence, and were visible to Israeli snipers positioned behind sand hills and earth mounds behind the fence. Some of the Palestinian youths threw stones at the Israeli soldiers on the other side of the fence. Israeli soldiers fired live ammunition, rubber bullets, and tear gas canisters at the protesters, killing a young Palestinian man, east of Khan Younis, and injuring 69 others, including 44 who were wounded with live bullets and bullet shrapnel, 18 who were injured by rubber bullets, and seven who were injured by direct gas canister hits. Of the total number of injuries, 29 were children and one paramedic.

The Killing of Ahmad Al-Qara, 23, East of Khan Younis

At approximately 11:40 pm on Friday, 26 July 2019, doctors at the Gaza European Hospital in Khan Younis pronounced the death of Ahmad Muhammad Al-Qara, 23. A resident of Bani Suhaila in Khan Younis, Ahmad was injured by live ammunition fired by the Israeli occupying forces at approximately 5:50 pm on Friday, 26 July 2019, while participating in the Great Return March demonstrations, east of Khuza’a, east of Khan Younis. Ahmad was standing about 80 metres from the fence when he was shot in the abdomen. He was taken to the Gaza European Hospital in critical condition and admitted into surgery, where his death was pronounced at around 11:40 pm that same evening.[1]

The Injury of 69 Protesters across the Gaza Strip

In the Rafah Governorate, the Israeli occupying forces injured 21 protesters, including eight children, during Great Return March demonstrations east of Al-Shawka, east of Rafah. One of the injuries was described as critical. Of the wounded, ten were injured by live bullets and bullet shrapnel, seven were injured by rubber-coated metal bullets, and four were injured by direct gas canister hits.

In the Central Governorate, during the demonstrations east of Al-Breij refugee camp, the Israeli occupying forces injured 16 demonstrators, including eight children. Of the injured, 12 were wounded by live bullets and bullet shrapnel, three were injured by rubber bullets, and one was injured by a direct gas canister hit.

In the Gaza Governorate, during the Great Return March protests in Al-Malaka area, east of Al-Zaytoun neighbourhood, east of Gaza City, eight demonstrators were injured by the Israeli occupying forces, including two children and a paramedic. Of the injured, three were shot with live bullets and five were injured by rubber-coated metal bullets. The paramedic injured is Ibrahim Jamil Jamous, 31, who works for the military medical services and was injured by a rubber-coated metal bullet in the right hand.

In the North Gaza Governorate, during demonstrations in Abu Safiya hill, east of Jabaliya, 11 demonstrators, including five children, were injured by the Israeli occupying forces. Of the injured, eight were shot with live ammunition, including five children, and three were injured by rubber bullets.

In the Khan Younis Governorate, during the demonstrations east of Khuza’a, east of Khan Younis, 13 Palestinian protesters were injured by the Israeli occupying forces, including six children. Of the injured, 11 were wounded by bullet shrapnel, and two were sustained direct gas canister hits.

In addition, tens of demonstrators suffered injuries as a result of tear gas inhalation and were treated in the field by health workers.

69th Great Return March Demonstrations on 2 August 2019

On Friday, 2 August 2019, during the 69th Great Return March protests, the Israeli occupying forces injured 67 Palestinians throughout the Gaza Strip. Of the injured, 27 were wounded with live bullets and shrapnel, 20 were wounded with rubber bullets, and 20 were injured by direct gas canister hits. Amongst the injured were 29 children, two journalists, and a paramedic.

During the 69th week of protests, Palestinian demonstrators again chanted national slogans and raised Palestinian flags. Dozens of demonstrators gathered at a distance of 50 to 300 metres from the Gaza fence, exposed and visible to Israeli snipers positioned behind sand hills and earth mounds and inside military towers on the other side of the fence. During the protests, Israeli soldiers fired live ammunition, rubber bullets, and tear gas canisters at unarmed Palestinian demonstrators. A total of 67 Palestinians were injured, including 27 by live bullets and shrapnel.

The Injury of 67 Protesters across the Gaza Strip

In the North Gaza Governorate, hundreds of peaceful demonstrators, including women and children, took part in the Great Return March at Abu Safiya hill, east of Jabaliya in the northern Gaza Strip. Twenty-one protesters, including 11 children and a paramedic, were injured. Amongst the injured, 12 were wounded by live bullets, five by rubber bullets, and four by direct gas canister hits. The injured paramedic is Wafa Omar Jaber, 24, a volunteer paramedic with the Ministry of Health in Gaza, who was injured with a rubber bullet to the left ankle.

In the Gaza Governorate, hundreds of peaceful demonstrators, including children, participated in the Great Return March in Al-Malaka area, east of Gaza City, where no injuries were reported during the demonstrations.

In the Central Governorate, hundreds of peaceful demonstrators participated in the Great Return March, east of Al-Breij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip. The Israeli occupying forces injured 16 Palestinian protesters, including four children and a journalist. Of the wounded, eight were injured with live bullets and bullet shrapnel, three were injured by rubber bullets, and five were injured by direct gas canister hits. The injured journalist is Osama Sharif Al-Kahlout, 33, a freelance journalist, who was shot with a live bullet in his left leg.

In the Khan Younis Governorate, hundreds of peaceful demonstrators took part in the events of the Great Return March east of Khuza’a, east of Khan Younis where the Israeli occupying forces injured 17 demonstrators, including ten children and a journalist. Amongst the injured, four were shot with live bullets and bullet shrapnel, nine were injured by rubber bullets, and four were injured by direct gas canister hits. The injured journalist is Hatem Saadi Omar, 39, who was wounded by a rubber-coated metal bullet in the legs. He is a photojournalist with the Chinese Xinhua News Agency.

In the Rafah Governorate, hundreds of peaceful demonstrators participated in the Great Return March east of Al-Shawka, east of Rafah. The Israeli occupying forces injured 13 protesters, including four children. Of the injured, three were wounded with live bullets and bullet shrapnel, while three were shot with rubber bullets and seven were injured by direct gas canister hits.

Urgent Need to Implement the Recommendations of the UN Commission of Inquiry

70 weeks since the start of the Great Return March on 30 March 2018, Palestinians in the occupied Gaza Strip have continued to call for the realisation of their inalienable rights, including the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and property, and an end to Israel’s 12-year closure of the Gaza Strip, which amounts to unlawful collective punishment, in violation of international humanitarian law, and has made Gaza uninhabitable.

As the Great Return March protests enter their 70th week, Al-Haq calls on third States and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to exert genuine efforts to follow-up on and to ensure the implementation of the recommendations of the United Nations (UN) Commission of Inquiry on the 2018 Protests in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), including for Israel, the Occupying Power, to lift its closure of the Gaza Strip with immediate effect and to bring its rules of engagement for the use of live fire in line with international human rights law. Al-Haq stresses that since the adoption of the Commission of Inquiry’s recommendations by the UN Human Rights Council on 22 March 2019, the Israeli occupying forces have continued to resort to excessive and lethal force, including live ammunition, against unarmed civilian protesters, in violation of international human rights law and the recommendations of the UN Commission of Inquiry.

Third States have an obligation to ensure the realisation of Palestinians’ inalienable rights, to address the root causes of the Great Return March, and to cooperate to bring to an end Israel’s widespread and systematic human rights violations committed in the OPT. OHCHR has an obligation, in line with draft resolution A/HRC/40/L.25 adopted by the UN Human Rights Council on 22 March 2019, to strengthen its field presence, monitoring, and documentation during the demonstrations and to “follow up on the implementation of the recommendations contained in the report of the commission of inquiry”[2]. Al-Haq stresses that further efforts are needed to ensure the implementation of the Commission of Inquiry’s recommendations.

Finally, Al-Haq recalls the urgent need for accountability, in line with the recommendations of the UN Commission of Inquiry, including for suspected international crimes committed by the Israeli occupying forces during the Great Return March since 30 March 2018. In particular, Al-Haq reiterates its calls on the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to immediately open an investigation into the situation in Palestine, without any further delays. In addition, Al-Haq recalls the obligation of third States to activate universal jurisdiction mechanisms and to hold to account perpetrators of suspected crimes committed in the OPT, including in the occupied Gaza Strip since 30 March 2018, as reaffirmed by the UN Commission of Inquiry. Ultimately, Al-Haq underlines the centrality of accountability and international justice to bring to an end Israel’s pervasive impunity and to achieve Palestinian protesters’ rights-based demands.

[1] For more details, see: Al-Haq, ‘Israeli Occupying Forces Kill Palestinian University Student Posing No Threat During Great Return March Protests’, 5 August 2019, available at: http://www.alhaq.org/documentation/weekly-focuses/1446--qq-

[2] UN Doc. A/HRC/40/L.25, para. 11.

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