Al Mezan Condemns the IOF Escalation of Military Attacks on the Gaza Strip

The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) launched airstrikes and intensified artillery shelling across the Gaza Strip on Monday, 27 February 2017, targeting military training sites, agricultural lands, and open areas. Explosions shook civilian properties near the targets, spreading fear and panic among residents, especially children. This is Israel’s second escalation in attacks this month. The international community continues to remain silent on the attacks and to accept impunity for IOF’s actions. Al Mezan Center for Human Rights views the attacks as a possible prelude to full-scale attacks on the Gaza Strip.

According to Al Mezan’s monitoring, the sporadic attacks started at 1:10 am on Monday, 27 February 2017, and continued until 2:30 pm the same day. The IOF launched 11 airstrikes, while the Israeli artillery fired 22 missiles targeting four military training sites and three agricultural fields. Four people sustained moderate injuries, while a number of residential houses and greenhouses were damaged. Al Mezan’s fieldwork staff also reported artillery shelling in agricultural fields in eastern Gaza City and eastern Rafah. The Israeli navy opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats in Al Waha area in North Gaza district. While no fatalities or injuries were reported from the attacks by sea, the fishermen were forced to return to land and desert their work.

Al Mezan condemns this latest military escalation on Gaza. Such attacks have, in the past, been the prelude to wide-scale military assaults. As witnessed in the last three Israeli military bombardments, women, children and the elderly bear the brunt of Israel’s lack of respect for the rules of international law—practices which are evidenced in the widely documented targeting of the civilian population and civilian properties.

Al Mezan calls on the international community, particularly the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention, to promptly act against Israel’s military escalation, to fulfill their obligations to protect civilians, and ensure respect for the rules of international law. Acting before a full-scale military bombardment is launched is crucial for ensuring the protection of civilians in the Gaza Strip.

Al Mezan reaffirms that the failure of the international community to address endemic impunity for Israel’s past and ongoing violations of international law serves to embolden the Israeli government and military leadership in continuing to perpetrate war crimes and evade obligations under international humanitarian law.