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Statement on the shooting of protesters in Gaza

The Aotearoa New Zealand Association of Social Workers (ANZASW) condemns in the strongest terms the shooting of protesters in Gaza, Palestine last week.

The incident, which has been described as a “massacre” by Israeli journalists, involved the deaths of 17 people and the wounding of nearly 800. As Human Rights Watch has noted, Israeli allegations that some demonstrators were violent does not justify the use of lethal force unless there was risk to life- which there was not.

Videos have emerged in the media which show unarmed protesters shot by snipers; at least one victim was shot in the back. It is reported that he died from his wounds.

This event is the latest in a long history of Israel using excessive violence against Palestinians who are exercising their legitimate right to protest, as protected under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It occurs against the backdrop of other injustices including the sentencing of social worker Munther Amira, who was arrested while protesting the detention of Palestinian children in Israeli prisons. Mr Amira’s case is one which ANZASW has followed closely and also condemns.

ANZASW hopes that there will be a credible and thorough investigation into the slaughter at the protest march and that Mr Amira’s sentencing will be urgently reviewed. The Association fully supports the human rights of both Palestinians and Israelis in the area and continues to wish for a just and lasting peace settlement to the conflict which has taken such a devastating toll on both sides.

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