Another Friday in Gaza: Protesters Threatened by Israeli Tanks

Peaceful Assembly

Every Friday since 30th March 2018, Palestinians have protested against the blockade on Gaza. Commemorating the Great March of Return, protesters are demanding they be allowed to return to territories currently occupied by Israel. In response, Israeli Occupation forces have repeatedly used excessive and lethal force against the protestors. As previously covered on the CIVICUS Monitor, civilians have overwhelmingly paid the highest price as a result of this use of force. Throughout 2018, children, paramedics and journalists have been targeted with live ammunition by Israeli forces. 

Protests which took place today, Friday 19th October 2018 were no different. If anything, this week's protest were even more dangerous for participants, with reports of Israeli tanks lining up in preparation for protesters at the border. Amid the violence, onlookers have urged Israeli security forces to exercise restraint. In particular, Amnesty International has condemned Israel's zero tolerance policy against demonstrations at the Gaza border. In a statement, the group expressed concern over today's planned protest:

"There are serious fears that this policy will further sanction the use of deadly force against unarmed protesters during today’s demonstrations, and that Israeli forces will be given carte blanche authorisation to carry out large-scale, unlawful killings escalating the bloodshed. Israel has repeatedly used lethal force unnecessarily and excessively against unarmed protesters in shameless violation of international law."

In a recent statement, the UN Special Rapporteur the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967, Michael Lynk, decried the use of lethal force. Lynk noted that many of those targeted by Israeli forces posed no imminent threat. As such, the use of lethal force was a disproportionate and intentional violation of human rights. 

In this context, civil society groups have documented the ongoing violations. For instance, Al Haq notes that:

“...the IOF has killed 154 Palestinians in the context of the march. During the march, soldiers are shielded by earth mounds and armoured vehicles along the fence.”

Only last week on 12th October 2018, the Palestinian Center For Human Rights documented the killing of seven Palestinian civilians by Israeli security forces. A child was among those killed in the clashes. The CSO described the heavy Israeli presence and the flagrant use of tear gas and live ammunition to control Palestinian crowds. During the protest, 224 others were wounded, including 42 children, 3 women, 3 journalists, and a paramedic.

With our local partners, the CIVICUS Monitor will continue to monitor the situation in Palestine.