The urgent situation in Gaza deteriorated in recent months. Israeli forces have continued to fire on Palestinians participating in weekly demonstrations against Israeli rights abuses near the fences between Gaza and Israel, killing 156, including 24 children, and wounding more than 5,000, since March 30. Demonstrators have thrown rocks and Molotov cocktails, used slingshots to hurl projectiles, and launched kites with incendiary materials, which caused significant property damage to nearby Israeli communities and, in at least one instance, fired in the direction of soldiers, but Human Rights Watch has not documented instances where protesters posed an imminent threat to life.

The Commission of Inquiry established by this body should identify any Israeli officials who sanctioned expansive open-fire orders that allowed soldiers to fire on protesters on the other side of the fence posing no imminent mortal danger, which would be contrary to the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials. 

The Israeli army also conducted air and artillery strikes in Gaza, killing an additional 20 Palestinians so far this year, including civilians.

Palestinian armed groups, meanwhile, fired more than 600 rockets, apparently indiscriminately towards Israeli population center from Gaza between May and August, more than ten times the number of rockets fired cumulatively between 2015 and 2017, injuring 28 Israelis, including civilians.

In July, Israeli authorities further tightened its closure of Gaza, exacerbated by Egyptian restrictions on its border with Gaza, as a measure to punish Palestinians for the launching of incendiary kites, banning the exit of most goods out of Gaza and limiting entry to “humanitarian” items. This move serves to undermine commerce in Gaza at a time where the unemployment rate stands at a 53.7 percent, according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, and 80 percent of the population depends on humanitarian aid.  

This body should continue to insist that Israel lift the unlawful sweeping restrictions on the movement of people and goods into and out of Gaza.

We welcome the High Commissioner’s highlighting of rights abuses in the Occupied Palestinian Territory in her opening statement, including the anticipated demolition of the Palestinian community of Khan al-Ahmar east of Jerusalem, and look forward to the publication soon of the database of businesses facilitating settlement construction and growth. Businesses cannot operate in or with settlements without contributing to serious abuses.