Use of Excessive Force against Demonstrations Commemorating the Palestinian Nakba
On Sunday, 15 May 2011, IOF used excessive lethal force to disperse participants in peaceful demonstrations organized in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank on the 63rd anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba. As a result, 144 Palestinian civilians, including 47 children, 5 women and 4 children, were wounded. In the Gaza Strip, 105 people were wounded, including 31 children, 3 women and 3 journalists. In the West Bank 38 were wounded, including 16 children, 2 women and a journalist. PCHR strongly condemns the use of excessive force against peaceful demonstrations in the OPT and calls upon the international community to immediately take action to compel the Israeli government to stop its systematic crimes against Palestinian civilians.
According to investigations conducted by PCHR, the incidents occurred as follows:
The Gaza Strip:
· At approximately 10:30 on Sunday, 15 May 2011, dozens of Palestinians began gathering approximately 1700 meters south of Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing in the northern Gaza Strip. People had gathered to participate in activities commemorating the 63rd anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba. At approximately 11:30, dozens of Palestinians headed towards the border fence near Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing. Ten minutes later, Israeli forces stationed at the border fired 4 arterially shells in the area where the Palestinians were gathering. Simultaneously, Israeli soldiers on watchtowers opened fire at the demonstrators. Israeli forces continued intermittently firing until evening, while helicopters hovered over the area also firing heavily at the area surrounding the demonstrators. Additionally, dozens of tear gas canisters and bombs which released a smoke were fired, causing fainting and neurological symptoms. As a result, 103 Palestinians were wounded and dozens suffered from gas inhalation. Thirteen of them were transported to al-Awdah Hospital in Jabalya, 6 ones were transported to Balsam Hospital in Beit Hanoun, and 84 ones were transported to Martyr Kamal Odwan Hospital in Beit Lahia. The wounded included 27 children, 3 women and 3 media people.
The media workers who were also wounded are:
- Hussein Abdul Jawad Karsou', 36, from al-Thalathini Street in Gaza City. He works as a freelance journalist and cameraman for al-Shoroq Media Institution and also managing a page of Gazan News Agency on Facebook. He was wounded by a bullet to the left leg;
- Mohammed Ibrahim Mohammed Othman, 25, a freelance cameraman, from Sheikh Radwan neighborhood in Gaza City. He was wounded in the chest; and
- Aasem Mohammed Shihadah, 25, a cameraman of the National Media Company. He suffered from suffocation due to firing bombs which released toxic smoke.
Additionally, three members of the Palestine Red Crescent Society's (PRCS) medical staff suffered from suffocation and fainted: Ahmed Abu Foul, 30, Director of PRCS's volunteers; 'Atiyah Morad, 25; and Ramadan Hoso, 28.
· At approximately 15:00, Israeli forces stationed at the border fence, east of Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip, opened fire near dozens of Palestinians participating in a peaceful demonstration in the eastern part of 'Abasan village, east of Khan Yunis. As a result, two Palestinians were moderately wounded and were transported to the European Gaza Hospital in Khan Yunis to receive medical treatment.
Sunday, 15 May 2011
In another attack using excessive force, IOF killed a mentally disabled child near Nahal Oz crossing at the borders with Israel, east of Gaza City, by an artillery shell.
According to investigations conducted by PCHR, at approximately 16:30, Shifa Hospital received the body of Khamis Salah Mesleh Habeeb, 17, from al-Shuja'iya neighborhood in the east of Gaza City. In a statement to a PCHR field worker, Adham Abu Selmiyah, Spokesperson of the Emergency Department, said that they had received a phone call from residents of Nahal Oz area, who stated there was a body near the border fence. Coordination was made through the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and an ambulance headed to the area where the medical crew recovered the body of Habeeb at a distance of 300 meters to the west of Nahal Oz crossing. The body was transported to Shifa Hospital in Gaza City. According to forensic sources at Shifa Hospital, Habeeb was wounded by shrapnel in the chest and the head from an artillery shell fired at him. He was killed immediately as a result of these wounds. It should be noted that Habeeb suffered from a mental disability