GENEVA / INQUIRY GAZA HUMAN RIGHTS

28-Feb-2019 00:01:59
The UN independent inquiry body charged with investigating the 2018 demonstrations in the Gaza Strip said today that it had “reasonable ground” to believe that Israeli security forces “committed serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law”. UNTV CH
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STORY: GENEVA / INQUIRY GAZA HUMAN RIGHTS
TRT: 1:59
SOURCE: UNTV CH
RESTRICTIONS: NONE
LANGUAGE: ENGLISH /NATS

DATELINE: 28 FEBRUARY 2019, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND
SHOTLIST
1. Exterior shot, Palais des Nations
2. Wide shot, Press Room
3. Med shot, journalists
4. SOUNDBITE (English) Santiago Canton, Chair, UN Independent Commission of Inquiry on 2018 Gaza Protests:
“The Commission has found reasonable grounds to believe that Israeli security forces committed serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. These violations clearly warrant criminal investigation and prosecution, and we call on Israel to conduct meaningful investigations into these serious violations and to provide timely justice and reparations for those killed and injured.”
5. Med shot, photographers
6. SOUNDBITE (English) Sara Hossain, member, UN Independent Commission of Inquiry on 2018 Gaza Protests:
“We found that 189 Palestinians were killed - 183 of them with live ammunition – and this included children, people with disabilities, journalists and paramedics,” commission member Sara Hossain said. “We also found that 6,106 people were wounded by Israeli snipers shooting at protestors with live ammunition. By the end of year, 122 of these people had suffered amputations - these included 20 children.”
7. Close up, camera
8. SOUNDBITE (English) Sara Hossain, member, UN Independent Commission of Inquiry on 2018 Gaza Protests:
“The vast majority of demonstrators were not involved in any form of violence. There were women and children present, there were people having poetry readings, playing music, waving flags, things that can’t in any way be considered to be violent. So I think the characterization of all the demonstrators as violent, we wouldn’t agree with.”
9. Med shot, journalists
10. SOUNDBITE (English) Sara Hossain, member, UN Independent Commission of Inquiry on 2018 Gaza Protests:
“We’re saying that they have intentionally shot children, they’ve intentionally shot people with disabilities, they’ve intentionally shot journalists -- knowing them to be children, people with disabilities and journalists.”
11. Wide shot, podium
12. Med shot, camerapersons
STORYLINE
The UN independent inquiry body charged with investigating the 2018 demonstrations in the Gaza Strip said today that it had “reasonable ground” to believe that Israeli security forces “committed serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law”.

There was “no justification” for Israeli forces to use live ammunition, according to the press release issued by the Independent Commission of Inquiry on the 2018 Gaza protest.

“The Commission has found reasonable grounds to believe that Israeli security forces committed serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law,” said the Chair of the Commission, Santiago Canton of Argentina, at a press conference in Geneva today. “These violations clearly warrant criminal investigation and prosecution, and we call on Israel to conduct meaningful investigations into these serious violations and to provide timely justice and reparations for those killed and injured.”

The Commission was mandated by the Human Rights Council in May 2018 to investigate all alleged violations and abuses of international humanitarian law and international human rights law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, in the context of the large-scale protests that began in Gaza on 30 March 2018. The commission is comprised of Santiago Canton of Argentina (Chair), Sara Hossain of Bangladesh and Betty Murungi of Kenya.

According to their findings, more than 6,000 unarmed demonstrators were shot by military snipers, week after week, at the protest sites by the separation fence.

The Commission investigated every killing at the designated demonstration sites by the Gaza separation fence on official protest days. The investigation covered the period from the start of the protests until 31 December 2018. 189 Palestinians were killed during the demonstrations inside this period.

“We found that 189 Palestinians were killed - 183 of them with live ammunition – and this included children, people with disabilities, journalists and paramedics,” commission member Sara Hossain said. “We also found that 6,106 people were wounded by Israeli snipers shooting at protestors with live ammunition. By the end of year, 122 of these people had suffered amputations - these included 20 children.”

According to the Commission’s data analysis, the Israeli security forces injured 6,106 Palestinians with live ammunition at the protest sites during this period. Another 3,098 Palestinians were injured by bullet fragmentation, rubber-coated metal bullets or by hits from tear gas canisters. Four Israeli soldiers were injured at the demonstrations, and one Israeli soldier was killed outside the protest sites.

The Commission found reasonable grounds to believe that Israeli snipers shot at journalists, health workers, children and persons with disabilities, knowing they were clearly recognizable as such.

Unless undertaken lawfully in self-defence, intentionally shooting a civilian not directly participating in hostilities is a war crime.

“The vast majority of demonstrators were not involved in any form of violence. There were women and children present, there were people having poetry readings, playing music, waving flags, things that can’t in any way be considered to be violent. So I think the characterization of all the demonstrators as violent, we wouldn’t agree with,” said commission members Sara Hossein, in response to a question from media.

Hossein said that victims had shot at by snipers, who also have “spotters available with them, with very high-level technology available with them to see who is out there in the field.”

“We’re saying that they have intentionally shot children, they’ve intentionally shot people with disabilities, they’ve intentionally shot journalists -- knowing them to be children, people with disabilities and journalists,” Hossain said in reference to the actions of the Israeli security forces.

The Commission also found that some organisers of the protests, which includes Hamas representatives, encouraged or defended demonstrators’ use of indiscriminate incendiary kites and balloons, causing fear among civilians and significant damage to property in southern Israel. The Commission concluded that Hamas, as the de facto authority in Gaza, failed to prevent these acts.

The Commission conducted 325 interviews with victims, witnesses and sources, and gathered more than 8,000 documents. An integral part of the investigation was comprehensive analysis of social media, and of vast amounts of audio-visual material showing incidents, including drone footage.

The Commission was mandated by the UN Human Rights Council to focus on accountability and identify those responsible for violations and alleged international crimes.

Israeli authorities did not respond to repeated requests by the Commission for information and access to Israel and to the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

A fuller report, containing detailed factual and contextual information and legal analysis will be published and presented to the Human Rights Council on 18 March 2019 in Geneva.
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