HAIFA, October 1, 2018 (WAFA) - Eighteen years since the October 2000 Israeli police murder of 13 unarmed Palestinian protesters in Israel and the findings of the Or Commission of Inquiry in 2003 into the murders which concluded that: "It should be unequivocally clear that live fire, including by snipers, is not a means for the police to disperse crowds," the Israeli military continues killing unarmed Palestinian civilian protesters with snipers and live fire in the Gaza Strip, with the approval of Israel’s Supreme Court, a human rights group said on Sunday.
Just this past Friday, said the rights group, Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, troops killed seven people, including two boys ages 11 and 14, and wounded another 257 in Gaza, including 163 shot with live ammunition.
Adalah demanded in a statement marking 18 years for the murder of the 13 Palestinians in Israel that Israel immediately halts the shooting of civilian protesters with live ammunition.
In October 2000, Israeli police and special sniper units killed 13 unarmed Palestinians (12 citizens of Israel and one Gaza resident) and wounded hundreds more when Palestinian citizens of Israel staged mass demonstrations throughout the country to protest Israel‘s oppressive policies against Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) at the beginning of the Second Intifada.
18 years later, however, not a single police officer, commander, or politician responsible for the October 2000 killings has been held to account for their criminal actions. Adalah and the families of the 13 victims continue to demand that those responsible for the crimes of October 2000 be prosecuted.
Eighteen years have passed, and despite the clear recommendations of the Or Commission, the Israeli armed forces have not changed their practices but continue to use excessive force and fire live ammunition at unarmed Palestinians in contradiction of both Israeli and international law, this time at protesters in Gaza, said Adalah.
Since the start of the Great Return March protests in Gaza on 30 March, Israeli troops have killed 151 people – including 30 children, one woman, two journalists, three paramedics, and three persons with disabilities, according to figures from Al Mezan Center for Human Rights. Israeli troops also wounded 10,234 persons, including 5,814 – among them 939 children and 114 women – with live fire.
In April 2018, Adalah and Al Mezan Center for Human Rights petitioned the Israeli Supreme Court to order the Israeli military to immediately halt its use of snipers and other live weapons against unarmed protesters.
The petition emphasized the absolute ban on opening fire on demonstrators with live ammunition and noted that the norms applicable to confronting civilian demonstrations are based in international law governing "law enforcement and order." These same norms have also been adopted into Israeli law, including via Or Commission report.
"These universal norms apply equally and without discrimination to citizens and non-citizens alike, regardless of the content of the protest, their slogans, their location, their organizational affiliation, and the ethnic and national affiliation of the participants."
Nevertheless, the Israeli Supreme Court rejected the petition by Adalah and Al Mezan, who said in response that: "…this ruling, which justifies the shooting of protesters, contradicts the conclusions and preliminary results of international human rights organizations and United Nations bodies documenting and evaluating the events in Gaza. The Supreme Court’s ruling gives full legitimacy to the illegal actions of the Israeli military, which has led to the killing of more than 100 people and the wounding of thousands of protesters, including women, children, journalists, and paramedics. Of those killed, 94 percent were shot by Israeli troops in the upper body." [Casualties figures from 25 May 2018]
Israeli armed forces backed up by the Supreme Court’s ruling, continue to target unarmed Palestinian demonstrators with snipers and live ammunition today in Gaza just as they killed Palestinian citizens of Israel protesting in October 2000, said Adalah.
It called on Israel to immediately halt these deadly practices and to allow Palestinians to exercise their right to protest and to freedom of political expression.
It said Adalah will continue to defend Palestinians’ right to protest, to support the struggle against racism and occupation, and to demand accountability for the victims of these gross human rights violations.
Adalah also urged the international community to take strong measures to ensure respect for international law, to provide protection for demonstrators and all civilians in Gaza, and to support the work of the independent UN Commission of Inquiry into the 2018 Protests in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
The 13 young men shot dead by Israeli police in October 2000: 21-year-old Rami Ghara in Jatt; 26-year-old Eyad Lawabny in Nazareth; 23-year-old Mohammed Jabareen in Umm al-Fahem; 18-year-old Ahmed Jabareen in Mu’awiya; 19-year-old Misleh Abu Jarad in Umm al-Fahem; 17-year-old Asel Asleh in Arrabe; 18-year-old Ala Nassar in Arrabe; 21-year-old Walid Abu Saleh in Sakhnin; 25-year-old Emad Ghanayim in Sakhnin; 19-year-old Mohammad Khamayseh in Kufr Kanna; 24-year-old Ramez Bushnaq in Kufr Manda; 42-year-old Omar Akkawi in Nazareth; and 25-year-old Wissam Yazbak in Nazareth.
The High Follow-Up Committee for Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel has declared a general strike on Monday, October 1, to commemorate the October 2000 killings and to protest both Israel’s planned demolition of the Bedouin village of Khan Al Ahmar and the recently-approved Jewish Nation-State Law.