Most lethal strike on a single residential building in Gaza in many years, and probably ever: According to information received by B'Tselem, on the morning of 29 July 2014, the Israeli Air Force bombed a four-story apartment building in Khan Yunis. The building collapsed, burying its occupants. Thirty-five people were killed and 27 injured. B'Tselem will continue to investigate the inciden, Yet even at this early juncture, it can be stated that the bombing of the building was unlawful. There can be no justification for the deaths of so many civilians, including 18 minors and eight women. Israel repeatedly claims that it has no intention of harming civilians. However, after more than three weeks of lethal bombardments by Israel in the Gaza Strip which have killed hundreds of civilians and wiped out dozens of families, this claim has become meaningless.
Use of firearms
According to B'Tselem's initial figures, at least 1,262 Palestinians have been killed in the Gaza Strip and Israel in the time between early Tuesday, 8 July 2014, when Operation Protective Edge airstrikes on Gaza began until the morning of 30 July.* The fatalities include: 314 minors (one minor participated in the hostilities), 148 women (under age 60), 62 senior citizens (aged 60 and over),
Initial findings indicate that 172 of the people killed participated in the hostilities.
Since the operation began and untill the evening of 31 July 2014 two Israeli civilians, one foreign national and 56 Israeli soldiers have been killed in Israel and the Gaza Strip.
Before B’Tselem’s petition could be heard by the High Court of Justice (HCJ) and to counter discrimination arguments, the Israel Broadcasting Authority (IBA) pulled two patently political ads that support the Gaza offensive. The State requested an extension, stating that the Attorney General had not had enough time to formulate a position on the matter. The justices instructed the State to submit its position by Monday, 4 August 2014. The IBA and B’Tselem were given two days to respond to this position before the Court delivers its ruling.
"We started walking met a young man who lived in the neighborhood. He wanted to reach his home to check on his family. He wore green shirt. He asked us to help him and accompany him. [...] We were shocked by what we saw. A-Shuja'iyeh had become a real ghost town: a city of ruins, completely destroyed.[...] The house had been completely demolished. He stood in the ruins, shouting and calling Munir’s name, but no one answered [...] We managed to walk just a few steps more when we heard a single gunshot. The young man fell to the ground."
Muhammad Sabah is B'Tselem's field researcher in the northern Gaza Strip. On 26 July 2014, he took the opportunity of a brief humanitarian ceasefire to inspect several locations in the area. Of the sights he saw in the town of Beit Hanoun during the ceasefire he said: "The situation in Beit Hanoun was terrible. I saw people trying to take a few belongings and get out of there as fast as they could in view of several days of artillery fire. They were also afraid of the ground incursion and because of the UNRWA school and the hospital in Beit Hanoun that had been hit."
Since Operation Protective Edge began on 8 July 2014, Palestinians throughout the West Bank have held strikes, rallies, processions and demonstrations to show support for residents of Gaza and to protest the military's actions. At some demonstrations, Palestinians threw stones and Molotov cocktails at Israeli security forces and burned tires; at one demonstration in Qalandiya, Palestinians fired live ammunition. Initial investigations by B'Tselem's field researchers found that in many cases, Israeli security forces responded with live fire. Initial information obtained by B'Tselem raises suspicion that senior commanding officers in the West Bank permitted security forces to use live fire as a means of crowd control, even in clashes with unarmed stone-throwers and in circumstances that posed no mortal risk to anyone.
Israeli human rights organization B'Tselem petitioned the High Court of Justice (HCJ) yesterday, 28 July 2014, seeking to oblige the Israel Broadcasting Authority (IBA) to air radio spots produced by B’Tselem which incorporate the names of a few of the more than 200 Palestinian children killed in Gaza in Operation Protective Edge. The IBA refused to air the radio spots on the grounds of being “controversial”, not balanced, and possibly provoking public controversy over the military operation.
We waited until dawn to leave the house. My children cried all night. On Friday (18 July), at 5:30 A.M., I left with my family. We didn’t take anything. Some of the kids didn’t even have enough time to find shoes and they went out barefoot. A lot of people left al-Qararah like us. We walked to Khan Yunis, about 8 kilometers away. We were afraid the bombing wouldn’t stop and we wanted to get as far away as we could. We finally arrived, tired and anxious, at an UNRWA school across from the Khan Yunis hospital. We left behind 25 sheep, a mare, a foal, and chickens.
"I was sitting reading the Quran when suddenly I heard a loud explosion. At first, I thought it was in the street or in a neighboring house. But I quickly realized it actually came from the roof of my house. I couldn't believe my house had been bombed. I ran up the stairs to the roof. Everything was full of dust and smoke. When they settled, I saw a terrible sight: a pile of five children lying one on top of the other... on the way to the hospital, Afnan passed away in my arms. I fainted. When I came to, we were at the hospital... they told me that two of my brother 'Issam's kids were dead too."
According to B'Tselem's initial figures, at least 878 Palestinians have been killed in the Gaza Strip and Israel in the time between early Tuesday, 8 July 2014, when Operation Protective Edge airstrikes on Gaza began until the morning of 26 July. The fatalities include: 207 minors (one minor participated in the hostilities), 88 women (under age 60), 47 senior citizens (aged 60 and over), Initial findings indicate that 165 of the people killed participated in the hostilities.
Since the operation began two Israeli civilians, one foreign national and 43 Israeli soldiers have been killed in Israel and the Gaza Strip.
“My wife and I were afraid something bad would happen to Yasmin and Usamah. We thought my sister Kawthar’s home would be safer… It’s usually quiet there, and the bombings haven’t reached them... my cousin called from Khan Yunis. He said a missile had been fired at my sisters’ house and asked me to come quickly because my kids had been hurt... I ran like a maniac to Kawthar’s house. When I got to the front door, I realized something terrible had happened. People inside the house came up to me. They told me that my two children had been killed... I yelled and cried hysterically.
According to B'Tselem's initial figures, at least 686 Palestinians have been killed in the Gaza Strip and Israel in the time between early Tuesday, 8 July 2014, when Operation Protective Edge airstrikes on Gaza began until 23 July at 8:00 P.M. The fatalities include: 163 minors (one minor participated in the hostilities), 69 women (under age 60), 38 senior citizens (aged 60 and over). Initial findings indicate that 153 of the people killed participated in the hostilities.
Two Israeli civilians, one foreign national and 32 Israeli soldiers were killed in the Gaza Strip and Israel during the same time frame.
Joint letter by Human Rights Organizations to Minister of Defense and Chief of Staff concerning the absence of any secure area in the Gaza Strip to which civilians can escape to protect their lives and ensure their safety and that of their families. We demand the immediate opening of an escape route for civilians to escape the battle zone.
"The family sat out on the porch, enjoying the atmosphere after breaking the fast. Despite the general sense of fear because of the war... things in the area felt normal at the time... Musa, my four-year-old, was sitting in my lap. My wife was holding Hazem, the baby.... Suddenly, two missiles landed on us... Everyone was hysterical and it was a huge mess. It's hard to describe the moments after the explosion. I saw some members of my family lying on the ground. Some of them weren't moving. They had blood on their faces and clothes. The little children were crying."
According to B'Tselem's initial figures, at least 505 Palestinians have been killed in the Gaza Strip and Israel in the time between early Tuesday, 8 July 2014, when Operation Protective Edge airstrikes on Gaza began until the 21 July at 9PM. The fatalities include: 140 minors (one minor participated in the hostilities), 56 women (under age 60), 28 senior citizens (aged 60 and over), Initial findings indicate that 102 of the people killed participated in the hostilities.
Two Israeli civilians were killed within Israel during this time, and 27 soldiers were killed in the Gaza Strip and Israel.
"The children were very scared and wanted us to move to schools, where they thought we would be safer. My son Muhammad, who is 18, cried and told me, “You want us to die, like you did with Matar.” Our son Matar was 17 when he was killed in the 2009 war [Operation Cast Lead]. He was killed together with his cousin Muhammad, who was 12, while they were trying to escape the bombardments… After I lost him, I was in a very bad state and couldn't function for some time... My husband, my parents and I thought about it until the morning and decided to leave."
On 20 July Israeli forces bombed the four-story building that was home to the extended Jame' family: the matriarch, Fatmeh Abu Jame', her four sons, and their wives and children. B’Tselem’s initial findings indicate that the likely target of the attack was Ahmad Suliman Sahmoud, a member of Hamas’ military wing, who was visiting a member of the family. Everyone who was in the house at the time was hurt: 25 members of the Abu Jame' family were killed, as well as Hamas operative Sahmoud. The rest were injured. Information B’Tselem has at this stage indicates that no warning was issued and no warning missile was fired prior to the attack
The organizations demanded that the Attorney General instruct the government to refrain from violating the laws of war and re-evaluate its aggressive policy and rules of engagement. The organizations seek to clarify whether the Attorney General critically evaluated the legal advice supplied to the Military Advocate General that underpins 'Operation Protective Edge', and calls on him to establish an external, independent and effective investigatory mechanism to examine the decision making of the political and operational establishment as required by international law and supported by the rulings of the High Court of Justice.
Horrific developments in Gaza have reached intolerable heights: Israel is bombing houses with people in them, entire families have been buried under rubble, and streets lie in ruins. Hundreds have been killed so far, dozens in the last 24 hours only, many of them women and children. Hamas makes no pretense to follow the laws of war. Israel does, but holds Hamas responsible for its own. Unlawful actions by one party cannot justify unlawful actions by the other. The horrifying reality on the ground makes it impossible to further countenance Israel’s cynical use of legal terms such as “proportionality”, “distinction” and “due caution”.
In light of last night's events: A procedure to evacuate those injured in the Gaza Strip is required immediately. as part of the lessons learned the "Cast Lead" operation, and in accordance with its legal obligations, the military pledged to prepare a coordination mechanism that would allow the evacuation of the wounded and give access to ambulances within a reasonable time. The incidents of last night clearly illustrate that this mechanism, even if it exists on paper, is not sufficiently effective. Accordingly, we urge immediate action to honor this legal obligation to institute a mechanism to regulate the evacuation of the wounded in the Gaza Strip. We call for protection to be provided to rescue teams and medical personnel in the Gaza Strip, to allow them to perform their duties without exposing them to danger.