US Must Hold Israel Accountable for Great Return March Killings
On Friday, March 30, 2018, 30,000 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip began the Great Return March. Originally intended to be six weeks of sit-ins and demonstrations to demand their internationally recognized right of return to the villages they were displaced from in 1948, which lie just a few miles away on the other side of Israel’s prison fence, the protests have continued every Friday for more than a year.
As they exercise their right to protest, the Israeli military is meeting them with lethal and excessive force. Israeli military snipers positioned at the boundary were originally given shoot-to-kill orders, and continue to use live fire, expanding bullets, and unknown toxic gases on the demonstrators. As of April 30, 2019, OCHA OPT reports that the Israeli military has killed at least 202 Palestinians participating in the Great Return March and injured more than 31,500—disabling many for life.
According to the UN Declaration of Human Rights, everyone has a right to peaceful assembly and to return to their country. Moreover, the use of lethal force is illegal under international law except in cases of imminent threats to life. Though Human Rights Watch has asserted that Israel’s actions were “unlawful” and “calculated,” Israel thinks it can continue to act with impunity.
Israel is the largest recipient of US foreign assistance, receiving $3.8 billion in taxpayer-funded weapons each year. US laws are supposed to prevent these weapons from being used to commit human rights abuses. It is past time to end Israel’s impunity to using excessive force against Palestinians.
Palestinians have the right to protest without paying for it with their lives.
- Read Human Rights Watch’s “Gaza Killings Unlawful, Calculated“
- Read Amnesty International’s “Stop the use of lethal and other excessive force and investigate deaths of Palestinian protesters“
- Read Al Mezan Center for Human Rights’ “15 Palestinians Killed and 1,087 injured in the Gaza Strip“