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.
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.
On 17 July, two employees of the al-Bureij local council were killed when the military bombed their Jeep. The two were on their way to inspect houses damaged by airstrikes. The bombing also injured two girls who live in a house nearby, one of them severely. Their mother, Fawziyeh al-Qrenawi, said in her testimony to B'Tselem: "My two daughters – Shahd, 7, and Salwa, 9 – were playing in their room, which has a wall facing the street... Suddenly, I heard a really loud explosion. A bomb landed very close to us. The house filled with dust and smoke. I ran to the girls' room and found them both lying on the floor. Shahd was bleeding. Salwa was lying next to her, screaming. I was stunned and couldn't understand what I was seeing."
Since the recent bout of fighting in Gaza began, the internet has been inundated with footage of the fighting and its results. It is often difficult to determine the reliability of this footage as well as the context in which the images were shot. Our blog will present footage we collected from various online sources. We do not have full information regarding most of the items, so we appended explanatory notes for context. We also provided links to related media reports and cited details of information still missing. Please note: Most of the clips contain graphic content.
"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."
"I decided to walk to my sister's house in a-Rimal neighborhood. It was very dangerous. We walked single file, one after another. I carried 'Abd a-Rahman and he held on to me tightly. We walked hugging the walls of buildings and the doors of closed shops, and tried to take cover under trees and light shelters. It felt like we were walking through a ghost town. We were surrounded by death... I prayed to God that He protect my children and me. I kept walking until we reached the hospital in Beit Hanoun. I met my husband there. I hadn't seen him since the war began, because he was at work all the time... We took a taxi from there to my sister's house in a-Rimal neighborhood. She was already hosting three other families, relatives of ours who had also fled the bombings. All told, we were 31 people. I was still scared, because no place is safe."
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.
More than 600 Palestinians have been killed during the fighting in Gaza so far, including more than 150 children. Yet Israeli media is barely covering the story, other than mentioning the number of casualties. To encourage public debate in Israel on the issue, B’Tselem asked to purchase a spot on IBA Radio in order to have the names of some of the children killed read out. The radio refused, on the grounds that reading out the names of Palestinian children killed in Gaza is politically “controversial”. Yet the refusal is, in itself, far from neutral: it is a powerful statement in favor of silencing public debate over the massive price that Gazan civilians are paying for this operation.
“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.
In an urgent letter to Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, 12 human rights organizations demand today that Israel fulfil its obligations and ensure that the humanitarian needs of the civilian population of Gaza are met, particularly with respect to the dwindling supply of water and electricity. More than half of Gaza’s population, 1.2 million people, currently were affected by lack of adequate access to water and sanitation services. Hundreds of thousands are completely without power, while additional hundreds of thousands are rationed up to 5 hours of electricity per day. These acute shortages are the result of severe damage to civilian infrastructure caused during the hostilities.
"It was the third time a Qassam rocket directly hit our family. The first was about five years ago, when a rocket hit my brother's house. Three years ago, a rocket hit my parents' house. I'm lucky that the damage to my house was relatively minor... my beeper started sounding the alarm and I went into the safe room ... I heard the rockets land very loudly, and it was so strong that the safe room shook... I was shaking and couldn't move. When I went out, I saw that the blast had blown the door in. I was shaking and couldn't move. When I went out, I saw that the blast had blown the door in. Bits of glass and shrapnel and plaster were scattered everywhere."
"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.
Millions of Israeli citizens, many of whom are children, have been living under the threat of rocket fire for more than two weeks. For hundreds of thousands of Israelis living in the south of the country, this terrible situation is part of an ongoing routine. The unrelenting attacks have disrupted their lives, denied their right to live in security and hurt their ability to make a living. Every venture outside – to work, school, or a recreational activity – is attended by a sense of danger. Some residents have even decided to relocate for fear they or their loved ones would get hurt. The photographs presented here were taken by Dudu Greenspan from Be'er Sheva, by Activestills, and by Reuters photographers.
"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."
"The fire from the first missile reached inside our homes, the explosion was so strong. It terrified us. Everyone panicked, especially the women, children and elderly people. Not all the families in the area left at once. We did it in stages. I saw my little grandchildren and the children of neighbors and relatives paralyzed with fear, and I could see in their eyes that they were shocked. They were trembling with fear. We had to evacuate our home and leave all our belongings behind. We only took a change of clothes, documents, money and jewelry. We left everything else behind: furniture, dishes, equipment. That really hurt. We left in a hurry after the last warning this morning, because we were very afraid of being bombed."
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.