B'Tselem slams Israel's killings in Gaza's peaceful #GreatReturnMarch

B'Tselem slams Israel's killings in Gaza's peaceful #GreatReturnMarch
An Israeli human rights organisation has slammed Israel's 'unlawful' killing of Palestinian civilians during The Great Return march.
2 min read
27 April, 2018
Dozens of Palestinians in Gaza have been killed by Israel during the demonstrations [Getty]

An Israeli human rights organisation slammed the army’s call to a staff investigation into Palestinian deaths during the Great Return March as “pure propaganda,” calling for a policy change to end the danger of Palestinian lives.

“Israel is highly experienced in breaking the law and trampling basic moral principles underfoot without being called to task in any way,” rights group B’Tselem said in a position paper, criticising the mass violence and collective punishment imposed on Gazans.

The human rights organisation urged Israel to stop targeting the peaceful protesters in Gaza, noting blaming Hamas for the ruthless killings is unsubstantiated.

“Israel’s position that it may use live and potentially lethal fire against unarmed demonstrators who are endangering no one undermines every moral principle, contradicts the provisions of international law and is unlawful. The same holds true for Israel’s insistence on continuing to apply the same directives despite the resulting high number of deaths and injuries.” 

“The identity of the demonstrators and their organisational affiliation make no difference; blaming Hamas, as if it were Hamas operatives who shot the demonstrators, is baseless,” the policy paper added.

While Israeli officials justified brutality by claiming Gazans pose a threat to Israel, B’Tselem maintained those being shot are unarmed peaceful demonstrators.

“For two weeks now, Israeli soldiers have been shooting at unarmed demonstrators who pose no danger on the other side of Gaza-Israel fence. An order to open live fire at unarmed civilians is manifestly unlawful.”

The past few weeks have seen tensions rise between Hamas-ruled Gaza and Israel.

Mass protests erupted on 30 March - dubbed "Great Return March" - which have centred on the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes, after they were expelled following the 1948 creation of Israel.

The protests along the Gaza border quickly turned deadly after Israeli forces responded with live ammunition. At least 1,600 protesters have been wounded by gunfire or needed treatment for tear gas inhalation in the weeks of protests.

The Israeli army has claimed that its forces only open fire in self-defence or to stop protesters attempting to breach the barrier separating the coastal enclave from Israel.

On Friday, more than 440 demonstrators were wounded with bullets or gas inhalation, according to rescuers.

Israel has drawn harsh criticism from international rights groups, along with calls for investigations by the UN and the EU.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and EU diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini called for an independent investigation, but a draft UN Security Council statement urging restraint and calling for an investigation of the violence was blocked by the US.