Israel’s use of fatal fire in Gaza

Israeli soldiers arrest two Palestinian protesters who tried to approach the fence at the de facto border with Gaza. (photo: Mohammed Saber / EPA-EFE / Shutterstock)

Excessive force or justified mob control?

By Loveday Morris and Ruth Eglash | The Washington Post | May 16, 2018

“Cutting or attacking the fence is an offense. It has to be countered, but countered with reasonable force. There is no meter that I know of that would put the safety of the border fence at the same importance of the life of a 14-year-old.”
— Michael Sfard, an Israeli human rights lawyer

Fourteen-year-old Wisal Sheikh Khalil had wire cutters out and was trying to break through Gaza’s boundary fence into Israel when she was shot dead by Israeli soldiers on Monday, according to her younger brother, who was with her at the time.

She was one of at least 60 Palestinians killed by Israeli troops during protests this week along the fence, according to local health officials.

Israel’s sharpshooters, looking down from their nests on mounds of earth on the other side of the fence, have been permitted to use lethal force against those “endangering” the barrier, Israeli military officials say. These officials also say that Israeli soldiers have been allowed to use live ammunition to shoot “instigators” among “rioters” on the de facto border.

In both cases, the orders are to aim for the legs, they say, though Khalil was shot in the head.

The Israeli military declines to go into further detail about its rules of engagement, saying they are classified. But human rights groups say the few details provided by the Israeli military make clear that the orders given to soldiers are illegal. These groups accuse the Israeli military of not making enough effort to use other means of dispersing crowds.

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