30 journalists covering Gaza protests injured by Israeli forces

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Palestinian protestors wave their national flag as they burn tyres during clashes with Israeli security forces on the Gaza-Israel border following a protest, east of Gaza City on April 6, 2018. (AFP)

Defying international law, Israeli forces have injured 30 journalists during the Gaza border protests, revealing further human rights violations against Palestinians in the occupied territories.

Since the adoption of a U.N. resolution earlier this year over rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territories, Israeli forces have injured 30 journalists during the Gaza border protests, defying international law, the U.N. reported.

“Thirty journalists covering the protests were injured” by the Israeli army, U.N. Human Rights High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet said in a statement, referring to the protests held along the Israel-Gaza fence. Since the start of protests in March 2018, known as the Great March of Return, a total of four Anadolu Agency (AA) journalists were also wounded, two in Gaza and two in the occupied West Bank. In the same period, two other journalists working for other media organizations in Gaza were killed.

Bachelet said the violations continued since the adoption of U.N. Resolution 40/13 on March 22 this year. The resolution ensures accountability and justice for all violations of international law in the occupied Palestinian territory, including east Jerusalem. “Serious violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law have continued in the occupied Palestinian territory in this period, including in the context of large-scale civilian protests in Gaza,” the statement said.

The Great March of Return, a key flash point for violence, began on March 30, 2018 when hundreds of thousands of Palestinian demonstrators converged on the buffer zone separating Gaza from Israel, calling for the easing of an Israeli blockade of the territory and recognition of the right of Palestinian refugees there to return home to Palestinian territories occupied by Israel. Israel has responded to the rallies with deadly force. Bachelet said Israel used tear gas, rubber-coated bullets, water cannons and sound devices, as well as regularly firing live ammunition, against the demonstrators. “As a direct result, since 22 March 2019, 13 Palestinians, including five children, have been killed,” she said.

Bachelet said hundreds of others, including health workers and journalists, have been injured. “Many have been left with permanent disabilities, including 20 who have undergone amputations, two who have been paralyzed, and six who have permanently lost vision in one eye,” she said. She added that the 13 deaths since March 22 follow the killings of 189 Palestinians in the previous 12 months, including 38 children.

Since the Gaza rallies began in March last year, nearly 270 Palestinians have been killed and thousands more wounded by Israeli troops deployed near the buffer zone. Israel was criticized by a U.N. human rights body for its killing of protesters in Gaza and for its treatment of Palestinians, declaring it a “war crime” under the Statute of Rome. The high casualty toll triggered diplomatic backlash against Israel and new charges of excessive use of force against unarmed protesters. Rights groups have branded open-fire orders as unlawful, saying they effectively permit soldiers to use potentially lethal force against unarmed protesters. In the face of growing criticism over Gaza border violence, the Israeli authorities earlier said that human rights laws do not apply to ongoing Palestinian protests along the Gaza Strip.