In the latest Israeli war crimes, on Thursday, 14 November 2019, Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) killed 8 members of one family, including 2 women and 5 children, and wounded 13 others, including 11 children, after bombing their houses in Dier al-Balah City in the central Gaza Strip. This attack occurred before the declaration of ceasefire and after two bloody days of military escalation.
According to investigations conducted by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), at approximately 00:25, IOF warplanes launched 4 missiles at 2 tin-plate houses belonging to Rasmi Salem ‘Ouda al-Sawarkah (45) and his brother Mohammed (40) in al-Berkah area in Deir al-Balah. As a result, both houses were destroyed while both families were inside. Rasmi, his wife and 3 of their children were killed; Mohammed was critically wounded but his wife and 2 of his children were killed. Moreover, 13 others were injured, including 11 children. Ten minutes later, an ambulance arrived at the area while the neighborhood residents gathered and started searching for the residents under the rubble. Six dead bodies and 13 wounded were recovered. The wounded were transferred to al-Aqsa Hospital in Deir al-Balah. At approximately 07:00, the area residents recovered the dead bodies of 2 children from under the rubble. IOF officially announced later that they targeted al-Sawarkah claiming that he was the head of the rockets division at al-Quds Brigades in the central Gaza Strip. The killed civilians were identified as:
- Rasmi Salem ‘Ouda al-Sawarkah (45);
- Mariam Salem Nasser al-Sawarkah (33);
- Yusra Mohammed ‘Awad al-Sawarkah (39);
- Wasim Mohammed Salem al-Sawarkah (13);
- Mohanned Rasmi Salem al-Sawarkah (12);
- Mo’ath Mohammed Salem al-Sawarkah (7);
- Feras Rasmi Salem al-Sawarkah (2); and
- Salem Rasmi Salem al-Sawarkah (3).
This crime took place within the 2-day Israeli military aggression against the Gaza Strip which caused many civilian causalities as IOF warplanes launched dozens of airstrikes on civilian targets and Palestinian armed groups’ sites, some located within densely populated areas. This reflects the highest degree of Israeli recklessness with Palestinian civilians’ lives. Up to the release of this document, IOF killed 33 Palestinians; 14 of them were civilians, including 3 women and 8 children. Furthermore, 46 Palestinian civilians, including 16 children and 6 women, were injured. Additionally, seven residential buildings as well as civilian objects and properties were destroyed.
PCHR condemns the Israeli crimes, stressing that these crimes are new evidence that Palestinian civilians always pay the price for Israeli attacks and military escalations.
Furthermore, PCHR stresses that the continued IOF attacks at densely populated areas and the use of weapons based in a manner of collective punishment are in violation of the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention and amount to war crimes.
PCHR reiterates its call upon the High Contracting Parties to the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention to fulfill their obligations under Article 1 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 Convention. These grave breaches constitute war crimes under Article 147 of the same Convention and Protocol (I) Additional to the Geneva Conventions on the guarantee of Palestinian civilians’ right to protection in the occupied territory.