Israeli military officials publicly stated in advance of the protests that the army would employ weapons and tactics that violate international – and even Israeli – law.
Al Mezan Center for Human Rights and Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel are calling on Israeli authorities today, 31 March 2018, to demand an immediate criminal investigation into the Israeli military’s killing of more than a dozen Palestinians during Land Day protests in the Gaza Strip yesterday.
Tens of thousands of Palestinian civilians, including women and children, participated in a protest yesterday near the border fence between Israel and the Gaza Strip.
The Israeli military responded with live ammunition from snipers and tank fire, plastic-coated steel bullets, and tear gas grenades launched from drones, leaving more than a dozen dead, including a farmer and several protestors, and upwards of 1,087 wounded including 204 minors, according to initial reports. At least 40 of the wounded are listed in serious or critical condition in Gaza hospitals.
Adalah and Al Mezan sent the urgent letter to Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit and Chief Military Advocate General (MAG) Sharon Afek demanding they order an immediate criminal investigation into the Israeli military killings.
Adalah Attorney Suhad Bishara wrote in the letter to Israeli officials that the Israeli military’s use of these types of weapons to disperse protests and demonstrations by unarmed civilians is a blatant violation of international laws prohibiting harm to civilians.
Al Mezan and Adalah further stressed that “on the eve of the planned protest, on 29 March 2018, we sent a letter to the army warning that the use of live fire to disperse demonstrations or crowds – by its very nature – results in deadly outcomes, and that this use [of force] is prohibited by international law and even by Israeli law. To our dismay and horror, this is exactly what happened.
“We referred in our letter to statements from [Israeli] defense establishment officials who said in advance of the demonstration that they would use force against protestors. We also noted that these statements attest to a deliberate intention to violate the basic principles of international criminal law.”
United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres called yesterday for an independent and transparent investigation into the deaths and injuries along Gaza's border with Israel.