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B'Tselem urges Israeli soldiers not to shoot Palestinians in Gaza

Israel shot at and killed unarmed protesters on Friday in Gaza [Getty]

Date of publication: 4 April, 2018

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B'Tselem has called on Israeli soldiers to refuse orders to open fire on Palestinian protesters in the Gaza Strip.
A human rights group is calling on Israeli soldiers to refuse orders to open fire on Palestinian protesters in the Gaza Strip.

B'Tselem spokesperson Amit Gilutz says the group has never before taken such a step, but believes that Israeli tactics in last week's border confrontations were "manifestly illegal." It comes after 18 Palestinians were massacred since last Friday, mainly during the peaceful Great Return March.

The Israeli human rights group says Israel has a right to defend its border, but live fire is justified only if there is "tangible and immediate mortal danger" to troops, which was not present in the protest.

The attack on Palestinian protesters gathered worldwide condemnation from a number of human rights organisations.

Human Rights Watch released a report on Tuesday, accusing senior Israeli officials of green-lighting the use of live ammunition against unarmed demonstrators last week.

"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, HRW deputy Middle East director.

"The result was foreseeable deaths and injuries of demonstrators on the other side of a border who posed no imminent threat to life," he added.

The Great Return March protests began on Friday and included cultural events such as traditional Palestinian dabka dancing for the thousands of families, women and children attending.

Tens of thousands of Gaza residents streamed to five tent camp sites, each located several hundred metres from the border wall. From there, large crowds marched to the heavily fortified fence, and some among them started throwing stones at Israeli soldiers who responded with live fire, tear gas and rubber bullets.

The march is specifically important to 1.3 million of the besieged enclave’s population because they are families of refugees who fled to Gaza during the mass expulsion of Palestinians during Israel's establishment in 1948.

The 1.3 million refugees, known as Muhajereen in Palestine, comprise a large portion of Gaza’s overall 1.9 million population.

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