23,000 Palestinians and 4 Israelis injured in Gaza fence protests, UN inquiry finds

United Nations commission of inquiry report on Gaza live fire deaths

The report of the United Nations independent commission of inquiry confirms that 23,313 Palestinians were injured during last year’s demonstrations in Gaza, the highest level of casualties since the Second Intifada in 2005, and that 183 Palestinians were killed, of whom only 29 were known to be members of armed groups.

Commission member Sara Hussein said: “Our investigations found that Israeli snipers used high velocity bullets and long-range sniper rifles equipped with sophisticated optical aiming devices. They saw the target magnified in their sights and they knew the consequences of shooting, but still pulled the trigger, not once or twice but more than 6000 times.

“The snipers killed 32 children, three clearly marked paramedics, and two clearly marked journalists. They shot at unarmed protesters, children and disabled persons, and at health workers and journalists performing their duties, knowing who they were.”

Israeli forces reinforced their positions at the fence with additional troops, including more than 100 sharpshooters, and they shot 6,106 demonstrators using live ammunition, usually in the legs, plus another 1,576 killed by shrapnel, 1,084 killed by tear-gas canisters and 438 by rubber bullets. Four Israelis were also injured.

The Commission concluded that Israeli forces “committed violations of international human rights and humanitarian law. Some of those violations may constitute war crimes or crimes against humanity, and must be immediately investigated by Israel.It also found there was no justification for Israel’s security forces killing and injuring persons who pose no imminent threat of death or serious injury to those around them, including journalists, health workers and children.”

They investigated many cases involving unarmed demonstrators being shot hundreds of metres from the security fence at a distance where they could not have posed a threat.  The distance a golfball can be thrown is about 100 metres and less for a heavier stone. Read more from the report below.

“The Commission also found Hamas, as the de facto authority in Gaza, responsible for failing to prevent [acts such as] encouraging or defending demonstrators’ indiscriminate use of incendiary kites and balloons, causing fear among civilians and significant damage to property in southern Israel.”

  1. Mohammad was a footballer. At approximately 9 a.m., Israeli forces shot him with a single bullet in both legs while he was walking alone approximately 150 m from the separation fence. His injuries ended his football career.
  2. ·       Abed was a resident of the Nuseirat refugee camp. Israeli forces killed him with a shot to the abdomen as he stood in a crowd of demonstrators approximately 150 m from the separation fence.
  3. ·       Naji, a mechanic from the Bureij refugee camp, was killed with a shot to the abdomen by Israeli forces as he stood wrapped in a Palestinian flag, 300 m from the separation fence.
  4. ·       Israeli forces shot Yousef, a student journalist, in the legs with two bullets in immediate succession. He was wearing a blue vest marked “Press” while photographing the demonstrations approximately 800 m from the separation fence. His right leg had to be amputated.
  5. ·       Israeli forces shot Mohammad, a student athlete, in the back of his right leg as he gave onions to demonstrators to relieve tear-gas symptoms, approximately 300 m from the fence. His leg had to be amputated.
  6. ·       Bader, from Jabaliya, was killed by Israeli forces when they shot him in the head as he stood smoking a cigarette 300 m from the separation fence.
  7. ·       Israeli forces shot a schoolboy in the leg as he stood in a crowd on Jakkar Street, approximately 300 m from the separation fence.
  8. ·       Israeli forces injured a schoolgirl with bullet fragmentation. As she lay on the ground, four men attempted to evacuate her. The forces shot three of them, killing Marwan Qudieh (45) from Khuzaa village and injuring a potato seller and another man in the legs. One of the rescuers had to have a leg amputated.
  9. ·       Jihad, a resident of Bani Suheila, was killed by Israeli forces by a shot to the head, approximately 300 m from the separation fence.
  10. ·       Alaa, a member of the Palestinian cycling team, was shot by Israeli forces in the leg as he stood holding his bicycle, wearing his cycling kit, watching the demonstrations, approximately 300 m from the separation fence. His right leg had to be amputated, ending his cycling career.
  11. ·       Israeli security forces wounded demonstrators as far as a kilometre away from the separation fence. In one case, they shot a 21-year-old student in both legs minutes after he arrived at the Bureij demonstration site.
  12. ·       The commission interviewed an international journalist covering the demonstrations at the Malaka site, who described the scene that day:

What was notable was the amount of injured people. And the slow, methodical shooting. Every few minutes… you would hear a shot ring out and you would see someone fall. And then another shot and another person fell. It went on for hours…

I saw a man who had been shot in the throat, I didn’t see it happen but I saw the immediate aftermath. He was covered in blood. I saw a man who had been shot in the head…

There was a constant stream of bloody bodies being carried back towards the ambulances. It was surreal and endless. It became almost normal, it was happening so often. A shot, a person falling, people carrying the body away.

The number of wounded was astonishing. I couldn’t say how many people I saw who were shot because it was so high. I have covered wars in Syria, Yemen, Libya. I have never seen anything like this. The slow methodical shooting. It was just shocking…

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