Ref: 116/2014

This photo was given to PCHR by journalist
Frederic Helbert
 

The Palestinian
Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) strongly condemns the new crime committed by
Israeli forces today in front of an UNRWA school that currently serves as a
shelter for displaced civilians. As a result of the attack, 9 civilians,
including 4 children, were killed and 45 others, including 25 children, were
wounded. This is the 7th crime of its kind in a way reflecting
Israel’s disregard for the civilians’ lives and for the international law,
including the international humanitarian law and international human rights
law. PCHR is shocked by the absence of any action by the international
community, especially the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva
Convention, to put an end to this offensive and its consequences.

 

This photo was given to PCHR by journalist
Frederic Helbert


According to
preliminary investigations conducted by PCHR, at approximately 10:50 on Sunday,
03 August 2014, an Israeli drone fired a missile at a motorbike that was less
than 5 meters away from the eastern gate of the Rafah Preparatory School for
boys (A) in al-Shaboura refugee camp in Rafah. This UNRWA school shelters about
3,000 displaced civilians. The attack coincided with the presence of a big
number of displaced civilians, the majority of whom were children, inside and
outside the school’s gate. As a result, 9 civilians, including 4 children, were
killed and 45 others, including 25 children aged between 2-12, were wounded and
taken to the Emirates’ and Kuwaiti hospitals, in the west of the city.  An UNRWA staff member is believed to be
amount those who were killed

 

The displaced
families resorted to this school after Israeli forces had launched a ground
incursion in the Gaza Strip on 17 July 2014. Israeli forces ordered civilians
to leave their houses via phone calls and by leaflets by dropped  by warplanes along the border area.

 

This crime is
considered the 7th of its kind where shelters have been targeted,
the most prominent of which was on 24 July 2014, when Israeli artillery fired 5
shells at the UNRWA Beit Hanoun elementary mixed school that served as a
shelter for displaced families. This attack resulted in killing 11 civilians,
including 7 children and 2 women, and wounding 110 persons, including 55
children and 31 women. On 30 July 2014, the Israeli artillery fired 6 shells, 3
of which landed in Jabalya elementary school “A” and “B” (Abu Hussein School)
in Jabalya refugee camp. This school had served as a shelter for hundreds of
families since the beginning of the Israeli offensive. Due to the attack, 15
civilians from the school, including 5 children, and 2 others from outside the
school were killed.

 

It should be
noted that from the beginning of this offensive, the number of civilians who left
their houses has increased to about 520,000 displaced persons, including 240,000
persons staying in the UNRWA schools throughout the Gaza Strip. The UNRWA
schools are known for their certain type of facilities in white and blue and
the blue UN flag clearly fixed on top of their buildings. In addition, the
UNRWA had coordinated with the Israeli forces that had comprehensive
geographical plans about the UNRWA facilities and their GPS coordinates to open
the UNRWA schools as shelters for civilians.

The UNRWA
facilities are clearly marked as they are colored in white and blue and the
blue UN flag is clearly fixed on top of their buildings.  Moreover, the UNRWA had coordinated the
establishment of humanitarian shelters with the Israeli forces and provided
comprehensive geographical schemes of the UNRWA’s facilities and their GPS
coordinates. UNRWA.

 

PCHR highlights
that this crime is part of the series of war crimes that have not stopped
because of the absence of accountability for the Israeli grave violations of
the international law committed against civilians, and:

1. Calls
upon the United Nations to form a committee to investigate the crime that was
committed by Israeli forces in the school and to submit publically its
recommendations to the various mechanisms of the United Nations, including
prosecuting the perpetrators before the International Criminal Court;

2. Reiterates
that these Israeli crimes clearly reflects the retaliatory natures of attacks by
Israeli forces against the Palestinian civilians;

3. Stresses
that under the international law, the presence of armed resistance does not
justify in any case the excessive, disproportionate and indiscriminate use of
force; and

4. Calls
upon the international community and the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth
Geneva Convention to immediately intervene to stop the Israeli offensive on the
Gaza Strip.