The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) continued its attacks on Gaza. While targeting civilian objects and persons, including houses and police stations, frequently deliberately, the IOF, stress that these targets have a military character. This practice has resulted in the vast majority of the victims of these attacks being civilians, for wide destruction of civilian property and infrastructure. These attacks represent grave breaches of the rules of international humanitarian law (IHL) and must be condemned and stopped immediately.
According to Al Mezan’s monitoring, since the start of the IOF aggression on 14 November 2012, by the time this press release was issued at 12 pm on 20 November 2012, at least 110 Palestinians have been killed in IOF attacks on the Gaza Strip. Of those, 23 were children and 12 women. Another 823 people were injured, including 271 children and 133 women. At least 670 houses have also been damaged or destroyed, including 57 that were destroyed completely; including 43 houses that were directly attacked. Of those 43 houses, 31 were deliberately targeted by direct IOF attacks using the roof-knocking tactic. Another 135 houses sustain serious damages.
Moreover, IOF attacks caused varying damages to 2 health centres, 28 schools, 2 universities, 10 NGO offices, 18 mosques, 10 media offices, 2 industrial plants, 56 commercial stores, 1 UNRWA food distribution Centre, 6 ministry offices, 12 police/security stations, 1 bank and one youth club.
At approximately 9:15 am on 20 November 2012, an IOF drone fired a missile at a man an this son as they were hunting birds in a farm in Beit Lahiya, north of the Gaza Strip. The child, Yehia Awad, 17, was killed and his father, Mohammed Awad, 40, was seriously injured in the attack. Residents of the area where the attack occurred told Al Mezan that the two victims have always come to the area to hunt birds.
In new roof-knocking attacks, at approximately 5:25 am today, an IOF warplane fired a missile at the house of Mohammed As-Sultan, west of Beit Lahiya town. This attack was preceded by an attack with two missiles on the same house ten minutes before this attack took place. The house was completely destroyed and 5 neighboring houses were damaged. Althoygh the residents of the house and its neighbors rushed to evacuate the area in anticipation of the second, heavy attack, the house owner, his wife and two children were lightly injured as they were not able to be far enough when the second attack occurred.
Ayman Al-Khouli, 41, informed Al Mezan that he received a phone call on his mobile phone at approximately 3:05 am, also on 20 November. The caller asked if he was ‘Abu Mohammed’, which was his neckname, so he answered yes. The caller then informed him that he was from the Israeli army and that he warned him to evacuate the house within five minutes without taking any belonging; otherwise, thebhosue would be bombarded earlier. The seven families who reside the 3-story house, which is built on an area of 750 square meters, left. Al Khouli also informed the neighbors and they evacuated their houses. About ten minutes later, the IOF bombarded the house with a heavy missile and destroyed a major part of it. At around 6 am, some of the residents returned to the house to check the damages; however, IOF fired another missile at it and they escaped. Five minutes later, the IOF bombarded the house once again and destroyed it completely. Several commercial stores near the house were damaged and one industrial plant was destroyed in the attack.
At approximately 12:45 pm on 20 November, IOF warplanes bombarded the National Islamic Bank in Gaza city and destroyed its interior completely. Several neighboring houses were also damaged.
Al Mezan strongly condemns the IOF violations of human rights and IHL, which victims are civilians, including children and women whose houses are bombarded or hit in disproportionate attacks. Al Mezan notes that as the time passes, the IOF attacks tend to violate international law. Attacks on civilians and civilian objects represent grave breaches of IHL that amount to war crimes. Such attacks have claimed dozens of civilian lives during the past days; including women and children. Al Mezan reiterates its deploring of international community’s failure to stop IOF aggression and the serious breaches of IHL they entail. Al Mezan calls on international community to intervene and provide protection for civilians under Israeli control and attack in Gaza.
Grave violations of IHL and gross violations of human rights which have been on-going for years must be investigated and punished. It is Palestinian most vulnerable civilians who are bearing the brunt of both the attacks and the impunity violators enjoy under the continued failure to stop or punish the violations against them.