May 14, 2018 – Reacting to the opening of the United States embassy in Jerusalem, Raed Jarrar, Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International USA stated:
Today, on the eve of Palestinians’ commemoration of the Nakba, the displacement and dispossession of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians 70 years ago from their homes and towns, the United States has chosen to reward the illegal annexation of occupied territory by moving its embassy and recognizing unified Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
The Trump administration may portray this action as simply hauling desks from one building to another. But in reality this move intentionally undermines Palestinian rights and in effect condones decades of violations by Israel, including the creation of illegal settlements, which constitute war crimes.
This U.S. action comes in the midst of a brutal crackdown by the Israeli government against Palestinians in Gaza who have been protesting, in the vicinity of the Israel-Gaza fence, against their unbearable living conditions and calling for the right to return. Israeli soldiers have used weapons — some made in the U.S. and designed to cause maximum harm — against individuals who were not posing an imminent threat to them, injuring thousands, and killing 37, including some in what appear to have been willful killings.
As Israel’s main supplier of military equipment and technology, the U.S. must finally realize that it is fueling serious human rights abuses and consistently allowing Israeli authorities to remain unaccountable for their actions.
Rather than showing contempt for international law yet again, the U.S. must take concrete steps to stop the delivery of arms and military equipment to Israel, and demand independent, impartial investigations into reports of violations.”
Responding to reports that dozens of Palestinians have already been killed and hundreds injured by the Israeli military, Philip Luther, Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International, said:
This is another horrific example of the Israeli military using excessive force and live ammunition in a totally deplorable way. This is a violation of international standards, in some instances committing what appear to be wilful killings constituting war crimes.
Today’s footage from Gaza is extremely troubling, and as violence continues to spiral out of control, the Israeli authorities must immediately rein in the military to prevent the further loss of life and serious injuries.
Only last month, Amnesty International called on the international community to stop the delivery of arms and military equipment to Israel. The rising toll of deaths and injuries today only serves to highlight the urgent need for an arms embargo.
While some protestors may have engaged in some form of violence, this still does not justify the use of live ammunition.
Under international law, firearms can only be used to protect against an imminent threat of death or serious injury.
Early medical reports from Gaza today indicate that dozens of people have been shot in the head or chest. Amnesty International last month documented research from the Gaza Strip that showed the Israeli military were killing and maiming demonstrators who pose no imminent threat to them.