Israel’s “state of war” argument that human rights law doesn`t apply to Gaza protests
© AP Photo / Adel HanaIn the Gaza Strip, Israeli forces opened fire with tear gas and live bullets today, as Palestinians continued mass protests against Israel’s occupation. The latest crackdown came one day after a Palestinian teen, 19-year-old Anas Abu Aser, died of his wounds inflicted by an Israeli sniper on 27 April. Medics report that Israeli forces have killed 49 Palestinian since mass protests began in late March.
At least two journalists are among the dead. Israel snipers have wounded 1,100 protesters. Palestinian medics told Al Jazeera at least 24 people have had their limbs amputated after they were hit by a new kind of ammunition—so-called butterfly bullets, which explode on impact, shattering bones and shredding internal organs.
In response to a High Court petition, Israeli authorities said the country’s government regards recent demonstrations by Palestinians along the Gaza fence line as a “state of war” and that the state of Israel opposes the application of human rights law during an armed conflict.
Israel says protests near the Gaza fence amount to an act of war, and thus it is right to respond fatally to the demonstrations in which 45 Palestinians have been killed in recent weeks.
The Israeli daily Haaretz cited an Israeli government statement as saying that it interprets the ongoing March of Return protests as “part of hostile acts by Hamas against Israel.” The statement came in response to a High Court petition filed by human rights groups, declaring that Israel opposes the applying of human rights law during an armed conflict.”
Gazans have been protesting each Friday at the fence since 30 March, claiming their right to return to their homeland.
On Monday, Israel’s Knesset passed a law authorizing the prime minister to bypass parliament and declare war, or order a major operation on his own after consulting only his minister for military affairs.
Israeli state attorneys on Sunday defended the army`s use of live ammunition during clashes with Palestinian protesters along the Gaza Strip`s eastern fence.
They said human rights laws are not applicable to the ongoing protests, which they argued cannot be considered civilian events. Thus, they said Israeli forces acted in line with both Israeli and international law in killing and wounding dozens of protesters, Haaretz reported Thursday.
The Palestinian protests on Gaza`s border fall into the ‘state of war` category; thus human rights laws do not apply to the [Israeli army`s] rules of engagement in this regard, state attorneys asserted in response to petitions filed with Israel`s High Court by a number of human rights groups.
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Since March 30, Palestinians have been holding mass rallies, known as the Great March of Return, near the fence blocking the Gaza Strip from Tel Aviv-controlled territory. The demonstrators claim the right of return for Palestinians displaced by Israel`s war of independence in 1948.
Dozens of protesters have been killed and more than 1,000 others have been injured as Israeli forces suppress the demonstrations with deadly force. The protesters intend to go on with the march until May 15, Israeli Independence Day, when they will commemorate the 70th anniversary of the displacement of the Palestinian population, which Palestinians call al-Nakba, or the catastrophe.
Photo: Palestinian protestor uses a tennis racket to bounce back a tear gas canister fired by Israeli forces along the Gaza border fence. 100’s took part in the weekly protests for the 6th consecutive Friday. Source: Yasser Fathi.