Humanitarian Truce Reveals Vast Destruction in Several Areas in Gaza , Al Mezan: Death Toll Reaches 966 Palestinians: 77% Civilian; 210 Children; and 114 Women

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A humanitarian truce for twelve hours was announced last night and entered into effect at 8 am today, Saturday, 26 July 2014. Medical and rescue teams have been working relentlessly to recover people who had been killed or injured in several areas across the Gaza Strip, where Israeli occupation forces (IOF) had previously prevented ambulance access. The Al Mezan Center for Human Rights has verified that as of 12 pm today, 94 (dead) bodies were recovered from these areas.

The IOF military attack on the Gaza Strip was unrelenting for 18 straight days. Attacks on civilians and civilian structures caused high numbers of civilian casualties, making up 77% of the total casualties. In a new IOF crime, artillery shells were fired into internally displaced persons (IDPs) shelters operated by the UN agency UNRWA, killing at least 11 civilians, including six children and two women, and injuring at least 100 people. The IOF attack on the town of Khuza'a in the east of Khan Younis breached international law. The attacks targeted unarmed civilians as they were fleeing their homes, or trying to approach the previously evacuated homes to access essential items. Attacks on ambulances were also reported and the IOF in the area prevented ambulances from evacuating the injured.

For the first time since the IOF invaded, Al Mezan gained access to the invaded areas. Our staff confirmed the reports of extensive destruction in property, to the extent of which is unprecedented in the Gaza Strip. The destruction is larger in scale than that inflicted during the 2008/9 Israeli Operation Cast Lead. The areas of Al Shejai'ya and Al Tiffah in Gaza City, and Az-Zanna and Al Qarara in Khan Younis have the appearance of being hit by a powerful earthquake. Thousands of houses were destroyed there.

Many of the approximately 200,000 displaced people in the Gaza Strip began to return to the sites of where their houses recently stood. The IDPs found their homes damaged and destroyed with their belongings inside. And they also began to witness the recovery of the decomposing bodies from under the rubble of their former homes.

With the recovery of dozens of bodies today, Al Mezan can confirm that as of 12pm on Saturday, 26 July 2014, at least 966 Palestinians have been killed by the IOF, including 210 children and 114 women. According to Al Mezan's initial investigations, 743 (i.e. 77%) of the victims are civilian. Many others who were killed are people who were known to have been affiliated with Palestinian factions, but who were not taking part in any hostilities. At least 450 (46.6%; 151 children and 96 women) were killed inside their houses and two women with disability were killed in an attack on a rehabilitation NGO office. Of the 450, 34 were combatants and the rest were civilians. Another 123 people were killed in the vicinity of their houses, including in situations where they were trying to flee from their homes as a result of IOF attacks. Three of those have been identified as combatants.

At least 4,327 people were injured during the same period; of whom at least 1,214 are children and 871 are women. At least, 3,998 houses were destroyed or damaged during this period; of which 500 were destroyed completely as the IOF directly and deliberately attacked 587[1] of the total number of damaged houses. For example, the Al Salam apartment building is counted as one house in the total number above. The numbers of casualties and houses are not final, but only those verified by Al Mezan thus far. The numbers are expected to rise as the verification of more cases is on-going. IOF attacks also damaged or destroyed 61 schools, 88 mosques, 1 ambulance center, 21 NGO offices, 39 fishing boats and 8 hospitals.

Two children, Walaa Mohammed Al Qabed, 15, and her brother, Ahmad, 11, were killed by missiles fired from Israeli artillery at around 10:00 am on Friday, 25 July 2014. The children had evacuated their home in the east of Wadi Al Salqa and were seeking refuge in Al Mazraa School in the east of Deir Al Balah. The attack took place after the children had left the shelter to bring clothes back from their home in Deir Al Salqa. Medical staff could only find the body of Walaa.
At approximately 11:00 am, on Friday, 25 July 2014, an Israeli warplane fired one missile near a house belonging to Saeed Al Duheiny, 50, in the Al Nusseirat refugee camp. His son, Ahmad, 20, was injured, as were Ali Al Duheiny, 24, and Ahmad Al Obeid, 19. Approximately 30 minutes later, the house was hit by missile fired by an Israeli warplane.
At approximately 11:15 am on Friday, 25 July 2014, an Israeli warplane fired at least one missile at a civilian house belonging to Ashraf Al Najjar in Bani Suhaila, east of Khan Younis. One woman, Najaat Ibrahim Al Najjar, 24, was killed and five others were injured in the attack.
At approximately 12:00 pm, on Friday, 25 July 2014, Israeli occupying forces fired artillery shells at Block C of the Al Nusseirat refugee camp. One shell landed outside of the house belonging to Anwar Ad Drazin, 34, where family members and relatives were standing. Two of his sons, Abdul Karim, 5, and Mohammed, 3, were killed. Ten were injured in the airstrike, with three identified as Nour Abu Dabbagh, 12; Ghassan Abu Dabbagh, 32; and another child, Ahamd Abo Qadoos, 13.
At approximately 1:00 pm on Friday, 25 July 2014, a missile from an Israeli warplane killed Hassan Al Hawari, 23, and Majed Abo Ammouna, 25 in Al Moghraga in the Middle Area. They were killed instantly.

At approximately 1:00 pm on Friday, 25 July 2014, Israeli snipers positioned to the east of Al Shujaiyah, shot and killed, Waleed Saad Al Harazeen, a child of 8. The attack took place when Waleed and his parents were on their way to check on their home on Al Mansour Street in Al Shujaiyah.

At approximately 1:00 pm on Friday, 25 July 2014, the bodies of Rami Mohammed Yassen, 25; Mohammed Yasseen Seyam, 23; and Ahmad Mahdi Abu Zour, 25, reached Dar Al Shifaa Hospital in the west of Gaza. The men were killed on Thursday, 24 July 2014, when Israeli warplanes fired at them in the eastern area of Al Zaytoun, southeast of Gaza City.

At approximately 2:00 pm on Friday, 25 July 2014, the body of Mohammed Hejjy, 24, was identified. He is a resident of Al Zaytoon, east of Gaza City.
At approximately 3.00 pm on Friday, 25 July 2014, Israeli drones fired two missiles at Jihad Hasan Mahmoud Hamad, 20, while he was walking near the Al Shoka municipality building in the east of Rafah. He was killed instantly.

At approximately 3.00 pm on Friday, 25 July 2014, Israeli drones fired two missiles at Nidal Ahmed ‘Issa Abu Al ‘Asal, 26, while he was in the garden of his house, which is near the Al Shoka municipality building in the east of Rafah. Medical teams were not able to recover his dead body until approximately 7.00 am on Saturday, 26 July 2014.

At approximately 3.15 pm on Friday, 25 July 2014, Israeli war planes fired a missile at a tunnel on the border with Egypt near to Salah Ad-Din Gate in the south of Rafah. The attack killed Mahmoud Ahmed Khaled Hasoonah, 23. Another person is missing.

At approximately 4:00pm on Friday, 25 July 2014, an Israeli warplane fired one missile at a house located in the eastern Al Zaytoun area. Two civilians, Osama Essam Azzam, 23, and Shadi Kamal Yasseen, 23, were killed in the attack.

At approximately 4.30 pm on Friday, 25 July 2014, the IOF fired several shells at a Palestinian Red Cross ambulance (a Volkswagen vehicle exhibiting the number 511) which was evacuating the injured from the Al Masree’een Street area in Beit Hanoun in the north of the Gaza Strip. The ambulance was directly hit and as a result, a volunteer medic, ‘Aa’id Mahmoud Al Bor’ee, 28, was killed and a volunteer medic, Hatim As’ad Shaheen, 38, and the ambulance driver, Jawad Fayez Bdeer, 50, were injured. The ambulance vehicle itself was completely destroyed. The volunteer medic Hatim Shaheen told Al Mezan that the ambulance crew had gone to evacuate wounded that they had been told were in the centre of Al Masree’een Street and that when they entered the street – which is near Beit Hanoun Hospital – the ambulance was shelled, as a result of which he was injured and the ambulance set on fire. Hatim Shaheen then got out of the ambulance and walked to Beit Hanoun Hospital, helped by a few young men. When he reached Beit Hanoun Hospital, he was taken by ambulance to Al Awda Hospital in Jabalia. After he was treated for his injuries he learned from his colleagues that Jawad Bdeer had, with some difficulty, managed to reach Beit Hanoun Hospital and that he was in ‘good’ condition. He also learned that ‘Aa’id Al Bor’ee had been killed while he was in the ambulance. Al Mezan also knew that at approximately 5.20 pm on the same Friday, 25 July 2014, an Israeli armored bulldozer and a tank advanced to the ambulance's location and moved it out of the street under heavy firing. Later, at approximately 5.35 pm, a Red Crescent ambulance (a GMC vehicle exhibiting the number 507) driven by Rami Khamees Al Haj Ali, and carrying the medic Yosri Al Masri and the volunteer medic Mohammed Harb, arrived in the area where the destroyed ambulance was. The Red Crescent had coordinated with the International Committee of the Red Cross to evacuate the dead body of the medic ‘Aa’id Al Bor’ee. However, IOF vehicles opened fire directly at the ambulance, injuring the driver Rami Khamees Mousa Al Haj Ali, 32. Medical sources in Kamal Odwan Hospital described his injuries as moderate. Rami Ali told Al Mezan that the ambulance that they were travelling in reached the entrance to the Al Masree’een Street from where they could see the ambulance that had been hit lying on the side of the road, approximately 50 meters to the east of the entrance to the street. They could also see the IOF vehicles. The IOF vehicles then opened fire at them, not giving them a chance to approach further. The ambulance crew therefore withdrew from the area and went to the nearby Beit Hanoun Hospital. There, Rami Ali realised that he had been injured in his left leg by shrapnel. The ambulance that he had been in was left at Beit Hanoun Hospital as it had been damaged in the attack and another Red Crescent ambulance took him to Kamal Odwan Hospital. In spite of having obtained prior coordination with the IOF via the ICRC, the Red Crescent was not able to reach the ambulance that had been destroyed or the body of the medic ‘Aa’id Al Bor’ee until 8.30 am on Saturday, 26 July 2014 (the next day).

At approximately 7:10 pm on Friday, 25 July 2014, an Israeli drone fired one missile at a group of civilians who were on their farmland near Al Satar Al Gharbi in western Khan Younis. One man, Yaseen Mostafa Al Astal, 38, was killed and four children were injured.
At approximately 7.30 pm on Friday, 25 July 2014, Israeli drones fired a missile at Mazen ‘Adnan Salman ‘Aabideen, 25, while he was riding a motorcycle near to the Al ‘Abideen mosque in An-Nasr town in the northeast of Rafah. When a number of his relatives arrived in a car (an ordinary civilian car), driven by Saleh Ishteewi Ibrahim ‘Aabideen, 42, the drones returned and fired a second missile at them. The second missile attack killed both Mazen ‘Aabideen and Saleh ‘Aabideen. In addition, Mo’ath Mousa ‘Aabideen, 3, Raja’ Suleiman ‘Aabideen, 43, Ahmed Jarad ‘Aabideen, 39, were injured. They were taken to Abu Yousef An-Najar Hospital where their injuries were described as ranging from moderate to serious.

At approximately 8:00pm on Friday, 25 July 2014, Israeli warplanes fired one missile at a civilian house belonging to Abed Allah Ibrahim Abu Leila, 52, located in the east of Al Zaytoun. Three civilians were killed: Abed Al Majeed Abed Allah Al Aydi, 36; Mohammed Abed Al Nasser Abu Zeina, 22, and Yossef Kamal Al Wassefi, 21, and the house was completely destroyed.

At around 9:15 pm, on Friday, 25 July 2014, an Israeli drone fired one missile at a motorcycle in Beit Suhaila. As a result of the attack, bystander, Yosra Salim Al Breim, 56, was killed, while the driver of the motorcycle was injured. Four other civilians who were in the area at the time of attack were also injured.
On Friday evening, 25 July 2014, and Saturday morning, 26 July, medical staff pulled 12 bodies from under rubble in the east of the Middle Area, in Al Maghazi, Al Moghraga and Al Salqa. The bodies have been identified as, Ahmad Bakeer, 19; Hani Abu Hasheesh, 23; Khaled Abu Shuhada, 23; Abdul Rahman Al Telbani, 20; Mohammed Abu Dawwaba, 20; Mohammed Saidam, 18; Arafat Abu Oweily, 25; Ghassan Abu Kmeil, 25; Mohammed Al Sharif, 23; Belal Al Masry, 21; Mazen Abu Jreiban, 32, and Khadra Abu Bleima, 70.

At approximately 11:00 pm on Friday, 25 July 2014, Israeli occupation forces invading Al Qarara village in northeastern Khan Younis fired at medical personnel who were evacuating a person with disability from Al Moari. The medical personnel had secured coordination with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to enter the area. One medic, Mohammed Hassan Al Abadla, 32, was shot and injured. The ambulance driver managed to safely evacuate the area, leaving Al Abadla behind. The communication with the medic was lost, who continued to bleed from his injuries. The medical personnel coordinated again with the ICRC to reenter the area to save the medic. After half an hour, when the medical personnel were permitted to access Al Abadla, he had succumbed to his injuries.
At approximately 11.05 pm on Friday, 25 July 2014, the IOF attacked Beit Hanoun Hospital which is located in Beit Hanoun town centre in North Gaza district. Several artillery shells hit the third (top) floor of the building of the Beit Hanoun Hospital. The shelling damaged the Women’s Unit and the Children’s Intensive Care Unit. Several shells also hit the hospital grounds, shattering the windows in the hospital reception, the Emergency Unit and the Medical Laboratories. The shelling caused panic among the medical, administrative and technical staff in the hospital. According to Al Mezan’s field investigations, there were around 200 people in the hospital when it was hit including hospital staff, visitors, local and foreign journalists, and several families who had sought refuge in the hospital because of the intensive attacks on residential homes in the vicinity. After this attack, the Ministry of Health decided to evacuate those present in the hospital and started coordination with the International Committee of the Red Cross in order to do so.

According to Al Mezan’s field investigations, the IOF continued to shell the hospital courtyard and the public park next to the hospital (on the western side) for two hours. Some of the shells released white smoke in the vicinity of the hospital, causing a white cloud to form inside the hospital itself. As a result, several of those present suffered breathing problems. In addition, three hospital employees were injured by the shattering of the windows. Their injuries were described as light. At approximately 1.20 am on Saturday, 26 July 2014, the IOF resumed the shelling of the hospital, causing damage to the reception, the Emergency Unit and the mortuary. At this time, those present in the hospital – employees, visitors and other civilians – had not yet been able to leave. The shelling continued until 7.30 am on Saturday, 26 July 2014. At 9.30 am on the same day, the Ministry of Health evacuated the hospital and closed it in order to ensure the safety of the employees and patients.

At around 11:30 pm, on Friday, 25 July 2014, an Israeli drone fired one missile at two young men who were in Al Moghraqa village. Tariq Ismael Zohod, 22, and Tamer Basem Abu Kmeil, 20, were killed in the attack. One civilian, Emad Adnan Abu Kmeil, 21, was critically injured and was transferred from Shuhada Al Aqsa Hospital to Dar Al Shifaa Hospital in Gaza; he died from his injuries.
At approximately 12.05 am on Saturday, 26 July 2014, IOF warplanes fired at least one missile at a group of people near the Al ‘Omri mosque in the centre of Jabalia town. At the time of the attack a United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) vehicle (exhibiting the number 2758) driven by Dr. Saleem Ramadan Ahmed, who is the coordinator of the UN IDP shelters, happened to be driving past. The attack injured three of the people who had been near the mosque (their injuries were described by medical sources in Kamal Odwan hospital as moderate) and the car that Dr. Ahmed had been driving was damaged. Dr. Ahmed himself was not injured.

At approximately 1:00am on Saturday, 26 July 2014, an Israeli warplane fired one missile at a group of people in Abu Elba in the Al Sheikh Radwan area of Gaza City. Islam Al Naji, 19, and Mohammed Al Saqqa, 20, were both killed in the airstrike.
At around 2:14 am on Saturday, 26 July 2014, two missiles fired by Israeli warplanes struck near the house of Abed Allah Ayesh Ermeilat, 37. Ermeilat was making a fire to cook the ‘sohor’ meal when the strike killed him.
At approximately 2:15 am on Saturday, 26 July 2014, an Israeli warplane fired one missile at a civilian car driving on Al Shuhada Street in Al Rimal in the west of Gaza City. The driver, Fadel Al Atawna, 30, was killed in the airstrike.
At approximately 3:10 am on Saturday, 26 July 2014, an Israeli warplane fired one missile at a house belonging to Samir Hussein Al Najjar in the east of Khan Younis. Three families, comprised of 17 members, were living in the three-story house. The house was entirely destroyed, crushing its residents and killing twenty members of the same family, including eleven children and six women. Only six people in the house at the time survived the attack, all sustaining moderate and critical injuries. The deceased have been identified as, Samir Al Najjar, 58; his wife Ghaliya, 56; and their children, Majid, 19; and Kifah, 24. Samir Al Najjar, 27, was also killed along with her children: Amir, 2; Islam, 3; and Amira, 8 months. Riham Al Najjar, 25, a pregnant woman, also died in the attack with her children: Olfat, 4; Samir 1; Motaz, 6. Iman Al Najjar, 23, also a pregnant woman, was killed with her daughter, Ghaliya, 1. Six other relatives were also killed in the attack; Baraa Al Reqeb, 11; Khalil Al Najjar, 60; Rawan Al Najjar, 17; Ahmad, 14; Somayya, 50, and her son Hani, 7.
At approximately 6:00 am on Saturday, 26 July 2014, Israeli warplanes fired three missiles at a house belonging to Mahmoud Shattat, 54, in Al Daraj in Gaza City. The three-story house was inhabited by fifteen family members including nine children. The house was completely destroyed. The owner of the house received a call from the Israeli authorities telling him to evacuate.
At approximately 8.30 am on Saturday, 26 July 2014, medical teams were able to recover the bodies of 32 people who had been killed during the offensive, taking advantage of the internationally facilitated humanitarian truce that came into effect at 8.00am and continues until 8.00pm. The bodies were recovered from Beit Hanoun, Beit Lahiya and Jabalia, all of which are in North Gaza district. The bodies were recovered after prior coordination with the International Committee of the Red Cross. The work to retrieve the bodies will continue throughout the period of the truce.

At approximately 9:00 am on Saturday, 26 July 2014, the bodies of ten people reached the Al Shifa Hospital. The bodies have been identified as, Amjad Al Saifi, 22; Hazem Al Mbayyed, 34; Abdullah Al Batsh, 22; Salem Al Shamaly (a paramedic), 27; Azmi Badwan, 16; Shareef Al Qurshally, 27; Abdul Kareem Abo Shanab, 39; Azeeza Abo Shanab, 60; Abdul Razeq Al Amareen, 31; and Mohammed Al Ghomeiry, 22.
At approximately 10.00 am on Saturday, 26 July 2014, an ambulance crew recovered the body of Hyam ‘Abd Al Kareem Abu Moor, 38. In the afternoon of Thursday, 17 July 2014, while she was trying to flee from her house which is located in Karam Abu Ma’mar in the northeast of Al Shawka town in Rafah, Heyam Abu Moor was hit by artillery shells. Her body was found around 500 meters from her house. It had not previously been possible to obtain permission to retrieve her body.

Al Mezan strongly condemns the IOF's serious violations of international law including the extensive, sometimes indiscriminate, armed attacks on civilian targets. Al Mezan expresses outrage by the attacks on houses with families inside and the firing at fleeing civilians. Al Mezan strongly condemns the attacks on civilian objects including hospitals, IDP shelters, electricity facilities, ambulances, and houses.

Al Mezan expresses serious concern by the continued failure of the international community to provide due protection for the civilian population in the Gaza Strip, and its failure to clearly condemn the IOF's flagrant violations of international law. This failure encouraged the continuation of serious violations of international law; the violations are reflected in human lives.

Al Mezan therefore calls on the international community to:

  • Condemn with the strongest terms Israel's grave breaches of international humanitarian law (IHL) in the context of Operation Protective Edge;

  • Take immediate, effective action to provide due protection of civilians in the Gaza Strip from military attacks and persecution;

  • Express unequivocal support and play a positive role in ensuring that credible, independent investigations into the suspected violations of human rights and IHL in the context of the operation Protective Edge are carried out so that accountability is ensured for those who committed the violations, and redress is ensured for their victims; and - Press for an immediate end to Israel's unlawful closure and blockade of the Gaza Strip.