A Palestinian youth, Ahmad Sliman Salem Dib, 19, died yesterday (28 April ‘10) after Israeli security forces shot him, in the morning, near the border fence with the Gaza Strip, while he was participating in a demonstration there.
The footage, filmed at the demonstration by Muhammad Sabah, B’Tselem’s field researcher in Gaza, shows a group of Palestinian and international activists walking in procession from the al-Shaja'iya neighborhood in the eastern Gaza Strip to the border fence with Israel.
The youths, who were unarmed, reached a distance of a few dozen meters from the border, and stood facing an Israeli military post. The footage shows a soldier standing by the post. Some of the protestors threw stones at the post. A single shot is heard. The injured youth was evacuated to receive medical treatment at Shifaa Hospital in Gaza City, and died of his wounds later that day. A previous shot, which was fired approximately ten minutes earlier and harmed no one, was not captured on tape.
The footage starkly contrasts the IDF Spokesperson’s statement that “the force acted in order to distance the demonstrators and fired with the aim of distancing them. The area by the border fence is a combat zone and the presence of terrorist elements there endangers the residents of Israel and the security forces operating in the area.”
Using live fire “for distancing” is illegal. The footage clearly shows that the demonstrators posed no threat to residents of Israel or to security forces. B’Tselem has documented many events in which Israeli security forces have used lethal means against stone-throwers and unarmed demonstrators in the West Bank. Since May 2008, at least eight Palestinians have been killed by security forces during demonstrations. Some of them were shot with live ammunition, while others were killed by rubber-coated metal bullets and gas canisters fired directly at them.
In addition, B’Tselem has gathered testimonies in recent years indicating that security forces have declared broad areas near the border fence between Israel and the Gaza Strip as “death zones”, in which open-fire regulations permit firing at anyone entering them, even if the person poses no life threat. Some of these areas closed to Palestinians are cultivated agricultural areas that are a source of livelihood for many Gazans. The present wave of demonstrations is part of a popular movement against the “death zones” . In the past, officials denied that these areas had been closed to Palestinians, yet today, this procedure has become official policy and the army has even distributed pamphlets on the matter throughout the Gaza Strip.