The Human Rights Council held in March 2015 included an addendum regarding the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). The addendum is entitled “The Human Rights Situation in the OPT between 12 June and 26 August 2014, including the escalation in hostilities between the state of Israel and Palestinian armed groups in Gaza.” The report explicitly cites the death of Hashem Abu Maria as one injustice of many that have resulted in the wake of this ongoing conflict.
On July 25, 2014 a member of Defence for Children International-Palestine, DCI-Palestine, forty five year old Hashem Abu Maria, was shot and killed by Israeli military forces. Hashem Abu Maria had been participating in a peaceful march in Beit Ummar after Friday prayers in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza. Conflict arose between the Palestinian youth and Israeli forces when the Israeli forces tried to disperse the demonstrators with lethal force. Hashem was not participating in the violence that ensued but was struck by a bullet from 100 meters away. Two other demonstrators, both of whom also abstained from any violence, were killed as well and ten other people were injured.
Hashem Abu Maria
Promote constructive child participation in the Occupied Palestine Territory
Hashem Abu Maria was the coordinator of DCI-Palestine. He worked tirelessly to promote constructive child participation in the Occupied Palestine Territory (OPT). The executive director of DCI-Palestine, Rifaf Kassis, released the following statement regarding Hashem`s death, “The DCI-Palestine family is shocked and devastated by the loss of our friend and colleague, Hashem. Hashem considered defending children’s rights as his purpose in life, not simply as a job. That he has become an innocent civilian to lose his life at the hands of Israeli forces is a tragedy. We offer our utmost condolences to his family.” Hashem is survived by his wife Samira, his eleven year old son Ayham, and his two daughters Siba and Majdal.
Over the weekend following his death many others were killed while protesting in support of the Palestinians in Gaza, where over 800 people were killed. While the Israeli military regulations do specify that lethal force should only be used as a last resort in instances of mortal danger, this stipulation is not enforced and is frequently ignored by the soldiers. The death of Hashem Abu Maria, a dedicated defender of human rights and beloved colleague, exemplifies this disproportionate use of lethal force by Israeli military forces and has intensified the motivation of DCI-Palestine to work towards ending such injustices.
Defence for Children International remains dedicated to preventing further injustices of this kind, especially in honor of the late Hashem Abu Maria.