Reports & Researches

Killing civilians in the great march of return

Killing civilians in the great march of return is Disregard for international law and an invitation to hold the occupation accountable for its criminal behavior

"Resolvesthat the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible"

As a result of this right, which was approved by the United Nations in paragraph 11 of Resolution 194 of December 1948, the great march of the Gaza Strip was launched to demand the implementation of this resolution and the return of Palestinian refugees to the cities and villages from which they were forcibly displaced in 1948. And this march is a peaceful march and has been announced in advance, and it is legitimate because it is based on the provisions of international law and the resolutions of international legitimacy.

Despite that this march is peaceful and legal, the occupation forces have faced it by using excessive and illegal force and using internationally prohibited weapons in the face of isolated civilians such as the use of explosive bullets, shooting at the parties for permanent disability and release tear gas canisters, to be the result 116 martyrs including 7 children (61 of them were killed in one day in the massacre committed by the occupation forces on Monday, 14/5/2018), and 12 thousand wounded.

The acts of the occupying forces against civilians and non-discrimination as "protected persons" are incompatible with the provisions of articles 27 and 47 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, and article 46 of the Hague Regulations and article 48 of Additional Protocol I, which states that "the parties to the conflict shall distinguish between the civilian population and the combatants, between civilian objects and military objectives, and then direct their operations against military objectives only, in order to ensure the respect and protection of civilian populations and civilian objects". This is what Israel has not done, which means that its violation constitutes a crime that amounts to be a war crime.

Also the occupation forces targeted journalists, where it intended to kill the journalists Yasser Murtaja and Ahmad Abu Hussein and wounding 6 others, this behavior contravenes the rules of international humanitarian law, precisely the 1977 Additional Protocol to the Four Geneva Conventions, which grants special protection to journalists as the most vulnerable to armed conflict, and the Article 79 of this Protocol which lists journalists who engage in serious professional duties in areas of armed conflict under the category of civilian persons, in accordance with article 50 of Protocol I, and therefore they are civilians. This provision also applies to all national journalists in the occupied territories.

We at the Palestinian Association for Human Rights (Witness) ask for:

First: work to accountable the occupation in the international courts for the crimes committed against Palestinian civilians and journalists.

Second: activating the role of the institutions concerned with the defense of human rights and protecting freedoms locally and internationally.

Third: Re-evaluate the human rights system in general and assess the effectiveness of local, regional and international mechanisms for the protection of human rights.

Fourth: We ask the International Criminal Court to open an investigation into the repeated Israeli crimes against the Palestinian people, especially the martyrs of the return march.

Fifth: We ask the international community to work to lift the siege on the Gaza Strip. And to fulfill its commitment to the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip.

Sixth: We ask the Palestinian Authority to work to submit a legal file on the repeated Israeli violations of international law in a serious manner to the International Criminal Court and international courts with universal jurisdiction.

Seventh: The High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention shall assume their responsibilities and fulfill their obligations by pursuing those accused of committing grave breaches.

Eighth: Calling on the United Nations to establish mechanisms to implement the resolutions on the Palestinian question, particularly with regard to the right of return.


Beirut, 17/5/2018

Palestinian Association for Human Rights (Witness)