On 30 March 2018 thousands of Palestinians peacefully demonstrating in Gaza on Land Day demanding Israel and the international community implements their legitimate right of return were met by Israeli snipers.
Human Rights Watch concluded that the murder of Palestinians in Gaza were ‘unlawful’ and ‘calculated’ and that Israeli ‘officials green-light shooting of unarmed demonstrators.’ ‘Israeli soldiers were not merely using excessive force, but were apparently acting on orders that all but ensured a bloody military response to the Palestinian demonstrations,’ said Eric Goldstein, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. ‘The result was foreseeable deaths and injuries of demonstrators on the other side of a border who posed no imminent threat to life.’
The UK government response by FCO Minister Burt did not condemn the Israeli authorities although there is clear evidence of violations and extrajudicial killings of Palestinians. The Council for Arab British Understanding (CAABU) stated that ‘UK failure to hold Israel to account over unlawful killings risks more deaths in Gaza.’
The United Nations has called for inquiry into the killings which has been denied by Israeli authorities. Four UN experts including Michal Lynk, UN special Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967, released a statement condemning the killings by Israeli security forces of at least 16 Palestinian protesters near the Gaza fence and noted that:
‘As many as 1,400 Palestinians have been wounded, some critically, since demonstrations began last Friday. Israeli forces used live ammunition and teargas against the demonstrators, who had gathered in occupied Gaza on the occasion of Land Day to call for their right to return to their homes. Most of Gaza’s population - which has been subjected to a comprehensive air, land and sea blockade by Israel for 10 years - is comprised of Palestinians who have been forcibly expelled from their homes and lands since 1948.’
Today, as thousands more Palestinians are set to continue on their peaceful protest it is highly likely that Israeli authorities will continue with their deadly policies against unarmed demonstrators.
The Palestinian Return Centre calls on the UK government to pressure Israel to implement the Palestinian refugees’ right of return to their homeland as stipulated in UN resolution 194.
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