Haniya, in her home in al Nussairat.


On Monday, 10 September, 2012, Israeli warplanes
launched 2 missiles at a vast tract of land in the west of al-Nussairat refugee
camp in the Middle Area of the Gaza Strip. As a result, 2 rooms and a container
on the land were destroyed. 10 olive trees and 23 houses were also damaged.
Additionally, 7 Palestinian civilians, including 4 children and 2 women, were
wounded. This attack targeted civilian objects which is a violation of
international law.


Haniya Abdul Hadi Kabaja (60) is one of the women who
sustained minor injuries on the night of the attack. She recounts that: “At
around 2.00am in the night, we woke up to the sound of shelling. We were all
very scared but we went back to sleep. 15 or so minutes later, we heard more
shelling and shrapnel hitting surfaces outside. Something hit my face and, when
I touched it, I felt myself bleeding. My son, Anas, saw this and he started
screaming for his brothers to come and help me. After they offered me first
aid, we heard my ten-year-old granddaughter, Reema, crying, and that is when we
noticed that she had also been wounded, in her leg.”


An ambulance arrived after a while, and Haniya and her
granddaughter were taken to Al Aqsa Martyrs hospital. Their wounds were
moderate and they were discharged soon after.


Until now, Haniya and her family have unanswered
questions with regard to the attack. They do not know what the exact target
was: “All of us were terrified, because the missiles were launched about 100m
from where we live. Other people in the neighborhood also got injured by the
shrapnel from the missiles. Some windows were smashed and there is clear damage
to some of the asbestos roofs. In this area, there have been no incidents since
Cast Lead. Nobody really knows why they launched missiles on an empty piece of
land, and so close to where people live.”


Since the attack, Haniya’s family has been living in
constant fear of further attack. This has had a particularly negative impact on
the children: “The attack has really frightened the children. They used to go
out after dark to play or to visit relatives who live in neighboring houses.
Now, they do not even step outside after darkness falls because they are too
scared. They are not the only ones who are scared. Even we, the adults, feel
the same way. At the same time, we know that there is nothing we can say
against the Israeli occupation. We cannot do anything about it either.”


Haniya’s son, Mohammed (32), hopes to see an end to
the attacks on unarmed civilians and calls for the respect of everyone’s
rights. “I just want to see the situation change and an end to the Israeli
occupation. We are unarmed civilians, yet they follow us and continue to attack
and terrorize us in our homes. They hurt my mother and my daughter, yet they
had not even done anything. We have not caused problems for anyone and the only
thing we demand is our rights, our land and our freedom. We are peaceful people
and we want it to remain that way. After all these years of being attacked, we
will not stop demanding our rights. Even if they kill all of us and only 10
people remain, we will still demand for those rights.”


The direct targeting of a civilian object constitutes
a war crime, as codified in Article 8(2) (b) (ii) of the Rome Statute of the
International Criminal Court. Similarly, under Article 53 of the Fourth Geneva
Convention, the destruction of private property is prohibited unless rendered
absolutely necessary by military operations. Intentionally launching an
indiscriminate attack constitutes a war crime as defined in Article 8 (2) (b)
of the Rome Statute of the ICC. 
Furthermore, according to the principle of proportionality, which is
codified in Article 51 (5) (b) of Additional Protocol 1 to the Geneva
Conventions, an attack that may be expected to cause incidental loss of
civilian life, injury to civilians, damage to civilian objects or a combination
thereof is considered excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military
advantage anticipated.