Israel will launch an investigation into the deaths of 11 Palestinians who were killed by live fire while protesting along the coastal enclave's border in 2018.
Among the cases the Israel Defense Forces' military police will investigate is that of 15-year-old Mohammed Ayoub, which sparked international outcry after a video emerged that showed the Gazan teen shot in the head while participating in a demonstration.
Last week, the IDF announced that Military Advocate General Brig. Gen. Sharon Afek had instructed the Military Police to investigate the 11 cases. Former IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot had also ordered that the army open probes into the deaths.
Until last week’s announcement, only three criminal investigations were opened, probing the deaths of female medic Razan al-Najjar and Strip residents ‘Abd al-Nabi and Othman Halas. These are joined by eight additional probes.
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Al-Najjar was shot on June 1, 2018 while wearing a medical uniform. An investigation by the New York Times which analyzed videos, footage and testimonies of witnesses found that the medic was not posing a danger to Israeli soldiers. The investigation claimed that the shooting was a rash act, which could be considered a war crime.
Over the past year many inquiries were made into the different cases, but none of them resulted in investigators recommending that criminal probes be opened against the Israeli soldiers who fired at Palestinian protesters.
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Nonetheless, an examination of the findings of General Staff probes as well as other information led the army to suspect that in a number of cases, soldiers had violated the rules of engagement.
One suspicion the Military Police is looking into is that the troops who killed Abd al-Nabi during a March 30 protest east of Jabalya are also responsible for three more deaths that took place on the same day: The lethal shooting of Mohammed Kamal al-Najjar, 26, who was killed by sniper fire in the abdomen; the killing of Thaer Abdel-Rauf Raba’a, 30, who was shot in his lower body on March 30 and died three days later after losing a large amount of blood; the death of Bader Ibrahim al-Sabbagh, 20, who was hit in the head by sniper fire on March 30.
In addition to these three cases, these are the other deaths that the Israeli military is investigating:
- The army is probing again the death of the 15-year-old Mohammed Ibrahim Ayoubwas killed on April 20.
- Ahmad Nabil Abu Aqel, 24, was shot in the back of the head on April 20.
- Ahmad Rashad Abdallah al-Athamnah, 25, was shot in the back on April 20.
- Bilal Bdeir Hussein al-Ashram, 17, was shot in the chest and right leg on May 15.
- Nasser Ahmad Mahmoud Ghorab, 51, was shot in the chest on May 15.
On February 28, the investigative commission of the United Nations Human Rights Council presented its findings on the most recent round of violence along the border and found “reasonable grounds” that Israeli security forces violated international law.
The commission determined that the majority of Gaza protesters who were killed by Israeli forces — 154 out of 183 people — had been unarmed.
The panel also recommended that UN members consider imposing individual sanctions, such as a travel ban or an assets freeze, on those identified as responsible by the commission.