AFHR Condemns Israeli Massacre of Peaceful Demonstrators in Gaza and Calls on the International Community to Activate the UN Mechanisms to Protect the Palestinian People

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AFHR Condemns Israeli Massacre of Peaceful Demonstrators in Gaza and Calls on the International Community to Activate the UN Mechanisms to Protect the Palestinian People

The Arab federation for Human Rights condemns in its strongest terms the bloodshed caused by Israeli troops against peaceful Palestinian protesters as they mark the 70th anniversary of “Nakba” and protest against the opening of the American embassy in Jerusalem. The Federation stresses that this is a cruel act which is unacceptable under international humanitarian and human rights laws which necessitates strong judicial action against Israel.

According to media reports, about 55 Palestinians including six (6) children were killed and more than 2,700 injured including 12 journalists, 203 children and 78 women in Gaza on Monday (May 14th) as the Israeli army used deadly force against protesters assembled along the Palestinian-Israel fence. This is the highest death toll of Palestinians in a single day since the 2014 conflict with Israel inside Gaza.

The demonstration which stated about six weeks ago is called “the Great March of Return,” where thousands of Palestinians gathered to protest the long-standing blockade of the enclave. According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, the dead and wounded were shot with live ammunition, rubber-coated metal bullets and other internationally prohibited weapons such as explosive bullets and tear gas. 1204 live bullets, 13 rubber bullets and 837 bullets, gas bottlenecks, were fired by the forces.

The Arab Federation for Human Rights affirms that the Israeli occupying forces attacks against peaceful demonstrators since the Land Day on 30 March are mass killings in a systematic manner stemming from political will aimed at shedding the blood of Palestinian civilians who exercise their right to peaceful demonstration and to raise their voice against Israeli occupation and against the blockade and their right to return. These crimes were in violation of the rules of engagement, as none of the occupation soldiers were at risk, while the majority of injuries in the head and the upper part of the body of civilians confirms the intention of killing or to cause severe damage.

The Federation also affirms the serious violations committed by human rights organizations and institutions, including the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights who did nothing to prevent the abuse by Israel, which included the deliberate killing and wounding of unarmed civilians who took part in the major return marches and the breaking of the blockade during the last seven weeks beginning 30 March 2018, Of the deaths of 47 Palestinians, including children and journalists, and the injury of about (six thousand), including about (200) in case of danger, and (200) are expected to suffer from disabilities resulting from deliberate targeting.

The Arab Federation for Human Rights considers that Israel’s continuation of this approach constitutes a grave violation of international human rights law and violates the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and the Fourth Geneva Convention and constitutes war crimes under international humanitarian law. AFHR aims to open an official investigation into these crimes, leading to the prosecution and accountability of all those involved in the issuance of decisions in the occupation army at the political and security level and those who executed it.

The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda has recently issued an urgent appeal to end the violence in the Gaza Strip. “Any person who incites or participates in acts of violence, including by ordering, soliciting, encouraging or otherwise contributing to the commission of crimes under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court, shall be prosecuted before it.”

In 2015, the Palestinian Authority signed the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, which accepted the Court’s jurisdiction. Consequently, any form of violence or crimes committed within its territory, including those carried out by the Israeli occupying forces, would be subject to investigation and prosecution by the International Criminal Court.

The Federation also calls on the UN bodies to take urgent action and follow up the stalled efforts to issue a resolution to set a time limit to end the occupation and get out of the series of futile negotiations. The Federation calls upon the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 to take appropriate measures to protect and care for Palestinian civilians and to compel the occupying power (the Israeli occupation authorities) not to deal with force the State or territory it has occupied. AFHR further calls on the international community to address the Israeli occupation and its systematic crimes which undermines the achievements of humanity, foremost of which are international humanitarian law and international human rights law.

Arab Federation for Human Rights

Geneva, May 15th,  2018

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