In a new war crime, on Saturday, 14 July 2018, Israeli forces killed 2 Palestinian civilians and wounded 23 others, including 2 children, in a series of airstrikes targeting an uninhabited al-Katiba building, which is located next to a public park in a densely populated area and government and civil institutions in the center of Gaza City. The bombing caused severe damage to the central building of the Ministry of Health’s ambulance, al-Katiba Mosque and al-Katiba Central Prison.
The Israeli airstrike came in light of a wide Israeli escalation since today’s dawn during which the Israeli warplanes launched dozens of missiles at agricultural lands and sites belonging to Palestinian armed groups in various parts of the Gaza Strip coinciding with artillery shelling east of the Gaza Strip. The airstrike resulted at severe damage to the lands and many houses in addition to causing fear for civilians, particularly children and women.
PCHR indicates that these airstrikes came in light official Israeli threats as the Israeli forces’ spokesperson Avichai Adrei stated that the Israeli army will conduct more raids in the Gaza Strip as long as it is needed. He also displayed photos of the 2014 Israeli Offensive on the Gaza Strip, pointing out for the possibility of repeating their scenario.
The Israeli forces’ spokesperson send a message through his page early today to the Gaza Strip population to “stay away from any building, infrastructure that serves the terrorist parties, any person known as terrorist and every area where terrorist organizations operate. Save your lives and you were warned.” This indicates an Israeli intention to escalate the situation, although the majority of the victims who fall as a result of this offensive are Palestinian civilians.
According to PCHR’s investigations, at approximately 18:00 on Saturday, 14 July 2018, an Israeli warplane fired 9 missiles at a 5-storey uninhabited building in al-Katiba area in the center of Gaza City. The abovementioned building is located next to a public park in a densely populated area and government and civil institutions. The bombing caused a partial damage to the building and resulted in the killing of Loai Mazen Nabil Kuhail (14) and his friend Ameer Mohamed Waleed al-Namirah (14). Both of them are from Gaza City. Moreover, 23 civilians, including 2 children, were wounded due to the scattering of shrapnel and rubble.
The bombing caused damage to al-Katiba Mosque and other facilities, including the Ministry of Health’s ambulance building and its facilities, a number of ambulances parked there, and al-Katiba Prison. it should be noted that a civilian was wounded in al-Katiba Prison.
According to PCHR’s fieldworker, Israeli warplanes launched over 88 airstrikes on empty and agricultural lands and military sites since dawn until the evening hours throughout the Gaza Strip, in addition to the artilleries bombing at eastern border areas. The Israeli warplanes heavily flew over the Gaza Strip’s sky, which brought to mind the latest Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip and caused fear among civilians.
PCHR deeply condemns this crime that provides further evidence that the Israeli forces continue to use deadly force amid densely populated communities and areas. PCHR stresses that these Israeli threats warn of launching more aggression, which means more casualties.
PCHR calls upon the international community to urgently intervene to stop the Israeli forces’ crimes. PCHR also reiterates its call upon the 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. These grave breaches constitute war crimes under 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 oPt.