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From the field

30 Aug. 2011: Civilians and civilian infrastructure hit in Gaza Strip, interim report

On 19 August 2011, around 9:30 P.M., the Israeli air force fired a missile into a street in the heart of Gaza City, killing Mu’ataz Kreqa’, his two-year-old son Islam, and his brother Munzar. The IDF Spokesperson’s announcement of 20 August said that Mu’ataz Kreqa’ “had been the operations officer in charge of rockets. . . [and] had played a major role in planning and firing long-range rockets at Israel” in the period preceding the attack on his life.

According to B'Tselem's information, about an hour before the incident, Islam Kreqa' had been lightly bruised and his father had taken him to a-Shifaa Hospital. Munzar Kreqa', a physician, had treated the infant. The three then left the hospital and rode on Mu'ataz Kreqa's motorcycle, to the a-Shaja'iyah neighborhood of Gaza City. A few minutes after they started on their way, an airforce missile struck them, killing them instantly. Several bystanders were wounded in the incident. B'Tselem wrote to the military judge advocate general, demanding that he order a criminal investigation in the case.

B'Tselem also examined two other cases. In one case, which occurred on 19 August, the military bombed a wastewater-treatment facility north of the a-Nuseirat refugee camp. The facility was built in 2004 with UNRWA funds and served as the main wastewater-treatment facility in the central Gaza Strip.

The other attack took place on 25 August, when the military bombed the a-Salam Sports Club, in Beit Lahiya, which belonged to the Islamic Jihad movement. Nobody was in the building at the time. The club included a gym, a play area and a court for various sports games, and was used by residents of the area. The bombing also destroyed a large part of a building that was used as a kindergarten and school, and damaged nearby houses. Two civilians were killed and approximately twenty persons were wounded in the bombing.

It is the military's duty to act in accordance with the principles of international humanitarian law, the most important of which are the principles of distinction and proportionality. The objective of these two principles is that civilians will not be injured and will remain, to the extent possible, outside the circle of the hostilities. The incidents described above raise serious concern that the military breached these principles. B'Tselem has requested from the IDF Spokesperson’s Office additional details on the latter two cases. Should the response indicate that the bombing did not comport with international law, B'Tselem will demand a criminal investigation.

B'Tselem knows of other attacks carried out by Israel in the Gaza Strip that have killed or injured civilians. The organization is examining each case to determine whether the injury to civilians and to civilian infrastructure was proportionate. Where a suspicion arises that international law has been breached, B'Tselem will demand a criminal investigation.