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Israeli forces may have committed war crimes against Palestinian protesters in Gaza last year, according to a United Nations Report states. It was also discovered that lethal force was used by the Israeli forces, killing 189 and injuring over 6,100 Palestinians protesting near the border between March 30th and December 31st, 2018. On March 18th the UN Independent Commission released a press statement regarding their findings.
“When examining the Israel defence forces’ use of live fire against the Palestinian protests, the Commission, however, found that application of lethal force was in the majority of cases authorized unlawfully. This inevitably led to arbitrary deprivation of life,” said the Chair Commission, Santiago Canton of Argentina.
The commission found that many of the shots fired were partly authorized by the Israeli security forces, under their rules of engagement. These rules state that snipers may shoot only in the lower limbs if the protestors are identified as “key-rioters”. To be identified as one requires acts such as burning tires, climbing on the fence, or cutting fence or standing really close to the fence separating the countries.
“Under these rules of engagement, 4,903 unarmed persons were shot in the lower limbs, many while standing hundreds of meters from the snipers,” said Canton.
In the report, the Israeli defence forces have been accused of knowledgeably targeting unarmed victims such as children, social workers, and journalists. Sara Hossain, a member of the Human Rights Committee of the International Law Association (ILA), announced that the 189 casualties included 32 children, three health workers, two journalists, and multiple disabled people. Additionally, the report found that the snipers using high-velocity bullets saw their target magnified “knowing the consequences of shooting, still pulled the trigger, not once or twice but more than 6000 times,“ added Hossain.
The commission strongly advised the Israeli security forces to take a look at these allegations, as clearly most of the people shot presented no imminent threat. During the investigation, the Commission has reviewed over 8,000 documents, medical files, eyewitnesses, and social media content. They have also received testimonies from protesters in the areas of Al Shaw Kah, Kuzza, Bureij, Malaka, and Abu Safia. Although Israel has decided not to collaborate, the Commission is hoping that with this evidence the Israeli Security Forces will investigate.
“The Israeli Security Forces committed violations of international human rights and humanitarian law.”, said Commissioner Kaari Betty Murungi of Kenya.
In this situation, the best thing to do is for Israel to begin an investigation in this excess of violence that occurred. As many have said injuring over 6,100 people and killing 189 is a significant amount of lives taken only to defend the border from a peaceful unarmed protest. Although the commission did address that in two instances “lethal force by the Israeli Security Forces may not have been unlawful”. In one of the instances, a single gunman in Gaza fired a shot, yet as a result 21 people, along with the gunman, were killed on the suspicion that they were part of an armed group. In this instance, the Israeli security forces should carry out thorough investigations before making rash decisions of possibly killing 21 innocent civilians.