Israel’s Supreme Court has unanimously rejected two petitions brought by human rights groups demanding Israel’s army to stop using snipers and live ammunition against unarmed Palestinian protests in the Gaza Strip.
The panel of three justices on Thursday sided with the Israeli military, which argued that the protesters constituted a real danger to Israeli soldiers and citizens.
Israel maintains its forces use of live fire is in line with both domestic and international law, arguing the demonstrations are part of the country’s conflict with Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip.
The court’s ruling gave Israel “a green light to its continued use of snipers and live fire against Palestinian protesters”, Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel and Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, which filed one of the petitions, said in a statement on Friday.
“The Israeli Supreme Court completely ignored the broad factual basis presented to it by the petitioners, which includes multiple testimonies of wounded and reports of international organisations involved in documenting the killing and wounding of unarmed protesters in Gaza”.
The human rights groups said the court “refused to watch video clips documenting Israeli shootings of demonstrators and, rather than actually examining the case, fully accepted the claims presented to it by the state.
“The extreme nature of the ruling is also highlighted by the striking absence of any mention of the casualty figures that had been presented to the court”.
Yesh Din, one of the rights groups that brought the other petition, also criticised the court’s decision.
“The judges missed an opportunity to prevent the continuation of the killing and injuries,” it said on Twitter.
‘Disproportionate use of force’
Between March 30 and May 15, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip protested for seven consecutive weeks calling for the right of return for Palestinian refugees to the homes and villages they were forcibly expelled from by Zionist militias in 1948.
Since the protests began, Israeli forces killed at least 113 Palestinians, including women and children, and wounded more than 12,000 people.
At least 3,569 Palestinians were victims of live ammunition, including, doctors, paramedics, journalists, women, children and the elderly.
UN rights experts denounced Israel for using a “disproportionate use of force”, while Amnesty International called it a “horror” that violated international law.
On Twitter, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman welcomed the ruling and criticised the rights groups for challenging the military.