Date: 13 November 2018
Time: 10:00 GMT
Within the last 48 hours, the Gaza Strip has witnessed a military escalation, where the Israeli forces have unprecedentedly used warplanes and artillery shells since the 2014 offensive on the Gaza Strip. This escalation has started after an Israeli special undercover unit “Mista’arvim” infiltrated the day before yesterday, 11 November 2018, Khan Younis in the Southern Gaza Strip and killed 7 members of the Palestinian armed groups, mainly a commander in al-Qassam Brigades from Khan Younis, creating a state of maximum alter among the Palestinian armed groups and tension among the Palestinian civilians. This undercover operation was followed by barrages of rockets launched deep into the Israeli cities adjacent to the Gaza Strip. Since Monday afternoon, 12 November 2018, and until the reporting period, upon a decision by the highest Israeli military and political echelons, the Israeli forces carried out intense airstrikes against many civilian facilities and residential houses in addition to sites belonging to the security services and others to the Palestinian armed groups. The Israeli artillery shelling also targeted the areas adjacent to the border fence with Israel. It should be noted that the Israeli forces launched missiles via drones towards the houses intended to be targeted (warning missiles) and then launched missiles via F16 warplanes to destroy the houses as the residents could barely leave them without taking any of their belongings. The incidents were as follows:
Northern Gaza Strip: Israeli warplanes carried out 15 airstrikes, launching 25 missiles to target a residential house that was completely destroyed, border control checkpoints belonging to the Palestinian armed groups and agricultural lands. As a result, a Palestinian civilian namely Khaled Ahmed al-Sultan (26), a farmer, was killed and his body turned into pieces in an agricultural land, while a Palestinian child was moderately wounded. Moreover, 2 members of the Palestinian armed groups were killed and 4 others were wounded.
Gaza City: Israeli warplanes carried out 15 airstrikes, launching 57 missiles to target 3 residential houses, al-Rahmah Building comprised of offices for rent, al-Yazji resindeital Building comprised of 5 floors, al-Aqsa Channel Building, and al-Amal Hotel which had become the Internal Security’s office that was only few meters away from the former head office of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR). All the targeted buildings were completely destroyed while the nearby houses and buildings sustained severe damage, including PCHR’s former head office and al-Mizan Center for Human Rights where the windows were broken and the shrapnel hit the furniture and offices. The airstrikes also resulted in the killing of a Palestinian civilian, namely Mos’ab Sa’id As’ad Hawas (21), and injury of 15 Palestinian civilians, including 3 women and 2 children. Moreover, the airstrikes targeted many sites belonging to the armed groups and Ansar Complex.
Central Gaza Strip: Israeli warplanes carried out 8 airstrikes, launching 14 missiles to target a Palestinian police checkpoint and several sites belonging to the armed groups. As a result, 3 civilians, including a woman and a child. Moreover, the Israeli forces fired 7 artillery shells at many agricultural areas adjacent to the border fence with Israel.
Khan Younis: Israeli warplanes carried out 21 airstrikes, launching 38 missiles to target 2 residential houses; including one that was completely destroyed, and many sites belonging to the armed groups. No casualties were reported but many Palestinian civilians panicked.
Rafah City: Israeli warplanes carried out 11 airstrikes, launching 17 missiles to target 2 residential houses, agricultural lands and military sites belonging to the armed groups, completely destroying all of them. As a result, 2 civilians were wounded, including a child. Moreover, 2 members of the armed groups were killed while 2 others were wounded.
PCHR reiterates its condemnation of these crimes and is strongly concerned. Thus, PCHR:
- Warns of the deterioration of the humanitarian conditions in the Gaza Strip in light of the Israeli military escalation and threats to expand the airstrikes along with the strangulating closure measures that affect Palestinian civilians’ aspects of life; and
- Calls upon the international community to immediately take action to stop the Israeli crimes and reiterates it calls upon the High Contracting he High Contracting Parties to the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention to fulfill their obligations under Article 1; i.e., to respect and ensure respect for the Convention in all circumstances and their obligations under Article 146 to prosecute persons alleged to commit grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention, noting that these violations constitute war crimes according to Article 147 of the same Convention and Protocol (I) Additional to the Geneva Conventions regarding the guarantee of Palestinian civilians’ right to protection in the occupied territories.