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.
Use of firearms
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.
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.
“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.
"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.
According to B'Tselem's initial figures, 203 Palestinians have been killed in the Gaza Strip in the time between early Tuesday, 8 July 2014, when Operation Protective Edge airstrikes on Gaza began until the 17 July at 7PM. The fatalities include: 41 minors, 21 women (under age 60), 14 senior citizens, Initial findings indicate that 48 of the people killed were involved in combat.
One Israeli civilian, Dror Khanin, was killed within Israel by mortar bomb fired by Palestinians from Gaza.
"At around 10:30 P.M., I heard two loud explosions. They were really close to my house and the whole area shook. There was no warning fire beforehand like there was in other cases. Glass in my house shattered and the whole area was covered in thick smoke... I made sure everyone in my family was okay and went outside...We continued looking for survivors and carrying bodies out all night... I can't express it in words. No one in the neighborhood ever imagined that family homes would be attacked for no reason, with no prior warning."
According to B'Tselem's initial figures, 172 Palestinians have been killed in the Gaza Strip in the time between early Tuesday, 8 July 2014, when Operation Protective Edge airstrikes on Gaza began until the evening of 14 July. The fatalities include: 34 minors, 20 women (under age 60), 10 senior citizens. Initial findings indicate that 43 of the people killed were involved in combat.
"We watched the first half of the match together. We drank tea and coffee and there was a relaxed mood. We didn't hear any airplanes nearby. Suddenly, there was a loud explosion. By the time I realized what was happening, I found myself buried under a pile of sand and dirt. I choked on the sand and could hardly breathe. I manage to get my head out of the sand. The rest of my body was stuck and I started calling for help. It was dark, but I could see that most of the caf? had been destroyed. It had simply disappeared, replaced by a huge hole in the ground. The people who had been inside were buried under the sand."
We reached the house that had been bombed. "I know it well. There was hardly anything left. It was totally destroyed. Bits of bodies were scattered on the road. The house next door to them belonged to the Shakshak family. It was also destroyed, but wasn't directly hit. The family was covered with debris, but they managed to get out alive. We started looking for survivors in the al-Haj family home. It was a terrible sight. I didn't think we could rescue anyone from under the debris. All we got out was body parts."