Among the victims was a 14-year-old; over 700 were injured
By Pavan Kulkarni / The Dawn News / April 23, 2018
Four more Palestinians were shot dead on April 20 and another 729 wounded, as 10,000 protesters in the besieged Gaza strip, unfazed by Israeli soldiers’ use of live ammunition, marched 300 meters closer to the border fence than they were in previous week’s protests. Among those killed was 14-year-old Muhammad Ibrahim Ayyoub, who was shot in the head by a sniper.
Confirming that the head-shot on Ayyoub was no accident, Brigadier-General (Reserve) Zvika Fogel of the Israeli Defence Forces elaborated in an interview “how a sniper identifies the small body of a child and is given authorization to shoot,” Electronic Intifada reported. “Fogel’s statements could be used as evidence of intent if Israeli leaders are ever tried for war crimes at the International Criminal Court,” the report added.
Also injured in the live fire were four journalists who were covering the protests. Thousands of Palestinians have taken part in The Great Return March that began on March 30, demanding the right to take back their ancestral land. Since the beginning of the protests, at least 13 Palestinian journalists have been hit by IDF gunfire, The Committee to Protect Journalists said. According to Palestine’s health ministry, a total of 39 Palestinians have been killed and over 4,000 have been wounded. Many of the injured have been left with permanent disabilities after being subject to amputations.
Drawing attention to the inability of Gaza’s healthcare infrastructure to cope with these mounting injuries, a report by Medical Aid for Palestinians said: “Gaza’s health sector – which according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) was already “on the brink of collapse” before the current protests began – continues to struggle to respond to the influx of mass casualties to field clinics and hospitals. The WHO reported this week that 75 essential drugs and 190 medical disposables need immediate replenishing.”
Earlier this month, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, called for an end to these atrocities, warning, “Violence against civilians – in a situation such as the one prevailing in Gaza – could constitute crimes under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, as could the use of civilian presence for the purpose of shielding military activities.”
On the same day the prosecutor made her statement, Israel’s Defense Minister, indicating that the use of fire power on unarmed civilians would continue, said in an interview, “You have to understand, there are no innocent people in the Gaza Strip. Everyone has a connection to Hamas.” Speaking to Democracy Now, journalist Glenn Greenwald said this comment reflected “the mentality of a genocidal maniac.”
Palestine’s Ambassador to the U.N, Riyad Mansour, called upon the U.N Security Council (UNSC) to form an independent commission to investigate the crimes committed by Israeli soldiers by using live ammunition on unarmed protesters. Previous attempts made at the UNSC to pass a statement critical of Israel’s use of lethal force on protesting Palestinians were blocked by Israel’s most prominent backer, the U.S.
In the coming days, the Ambassador announced, a list of complaints would be submitted by the Palestinian Authority to UN Human Rights Council, “with the intention of establishing an investigative committee or a fact-finding mission,” Al Jazeera reported.
Friday was the fourth mass protest held as a part of the Great Return March which started on March 30 – a date remembered in Palestine as the Land Day in commemoration of the uprising that was triggered in 1976 after Israel confiscated 5,000 acres of land held by Palestinians in Galilee, in order to change demographics of the region and ensure a Jewish majority.
The protests will continue till May 15, a date Palestinians call the Nakba day, or the day of catastrophe, when, after creation of the state of Israel on this date in 1948, between 750,000 – 900,000 Palestinians were evicted or had to flee from their ancestral lands. This year, on this date, it is expected that the protesters, will finally reach the border fence demanding their right to return to their land – a right stipulated in UN general assembly’s resolution 194.
Israel, however, has ruled this out, on the grounds that allowing as many as five million direct descendants of those Palestinians who were evicted from their land after the creation of the Israeli state will change the demographics of the country, from one of a Jewish majority to that of a Palestinian majority.