Today at dawn, Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) have killed 13 Palestinians, including 4 women and 4 children; one was a 17-year-old girl, in addition to 3 commanders of the Palestinian armed groups with some of their family members. Moreover, 18 other Palestinians have been injured, including 4 women and 4 children, in a series of simultaneous airstrikes that targeted 4 residential apartments over their residents’ heads without a prior warning as part of extrajudicial execution crimes (assassinations) upon a decision from Israel’s top military, political and judicial echelons.
IOF announced that IOF and Shin Bet (Shabak) conducted airstrikes in a joint targeted operation dubbed as “Shield and Arrow” against 3 commanders of Al-Quds Brigades- the military wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ).
This operation reflects Israel’s blatant disregard for the lives of Palestinian civilians and its persistence in inflicting harm to them, as it has the full intelligence information about the targeted apartments and has committed this crime with full awareness that it would inflict civilian casualties. This disregard was clear when a Palestinian doctor holding a Russian passport along with his wife and son were killed in their residential apartment that was directly targeted simultaneously with another apartment for one of the targeted commanders in the same building. The doctor was one of the most prominent dental implant specialists and the Chairman of al-Wafaa Charitable Society’s Board of Directors, a non-governmental organization that is a member of the Palestinian Non-Governmental Organizations Network (PNGO) and runs al-Wafaa Hospital for Medical Rehabilitation and Specialized Surgery, which was previously, and several times bombed.
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) condemns in the strongest terms this aggression and is concerned that it may continue and escalate, especially in light of the measures announced by Israel, including the closure of crossings with Gaza and taking security measures in Israeli compounds adjacent to Gaza, indicating that the aggression might extend, and Palestinian civilians would pay the price.
According to PCHR’s investigations, at approximately 02:00 on Tuesday, 09 May 2023, IOF warplanes fired 2 missiles at the 6th and 5th floors of a 6-storey residential building in al-Rimal neighborhood in central Gaza City. As a result, the two apartments were destroyed, 6 Palestinians, including a woman and 2 children, were killed and 6 others, including 2 women, from the apartment’s residents were injured.
Those killed on the 6th floor were identified as Jamal Saber Mohammed Khaswan (52), the abovementioned dentist; his wife, Mervat Saleh Mohammed Khaswan (44); and their son Yousef (19), a second-year student at the Faculty of Dentistry. All of them were civilians and lived on the 6th floor.
Meanwhile, those killed on the 5th floor were identified as Tareq Ibrahim Mohammed ‘Izz al-Deen (51), a commander at al-Quds Brigades; and his two children ‘Ali (9) and Mayar (7). Also, the building sustained severe damage while the nearby buildings sustained partial damage.
Around the same time, Israeli warplanes fired 2 missiles at a 2-storey house belonging to al-Behtaini family in al-Sha’af neighborhood in eastern Gaza City. As a result, five, including 2 women and 2 girls, were killed, and 6 others, including 3 children and 2 women, were injured. Those killed were identified as Khalil Khaled al-Behtaini (44), a commander at al-Quds Brigades; his wife Laila Majdi Mostafa al-Behtaini (42); his 4-year-old daughter Hajar; a 19-yeat-old girl namely Dania ‘Alaa ‘Ataa ‘Adas and her sister Eman (17), who succumbed to her injuries at around 10:00, noting that Dania and Eman lived adjacent to the targeted building.
Meanwhile, Israeli warplanes fired three GBU-39 bombs at a 1-storey house belonging to Jihad Shaker Diab ‘AbdulHafez/Al-Ghanam (62), Secretary of al-Quds Brigades’ Military Council, in Al-Jeneina neighborhood in Rafah. As a result, Al-Ghanam, who was an amputee, and his wife Wafaa Nimr Tawfiq Al-Ghanam (62) were killed, and 6 others sustained various wounds, including a child and the targeted commander’s son. Also, the nearby houses sustained damage.
The Israeli warplanes also bombed many training sites of the Palestinian armed groups, but no casualties were reported despite enticing fear among civilians, particularly children.
Extrajudicial killings are carried out pursuant to Israeli intelligence information and those wanted are killed instantly instead arresting them. By this, IOF usurp judges’ role in deciding and executing a death sentence at the same time. Assassination crimes by warplanes have mostly and unnecessarily inflicted civilian casualties that amount to a war crime.
PCHR indicates that that IOF have always used this type of crimes in the recent years against the Palestinians in light of international community’s silence, particularly the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention, and inaction to stop these crimes and take effective measures against the Israeli occupation, therefore encouraging Israel to commit further war crimes against the Palestinians.
PCHR reminds that the Palestinian civilians always pay the price of Israeli offensives, warning that this Israeli policy holds 2 million Palestinians hostages of bombing, fear, anxiety, siege, and direct targeting.
In this context and as part of their collective punishment policy, IOF announced the closure of Gaza Strip crossings, leading to a further deterioration in the humanitarian situation.
Fearing a further escalation, the governmental Information Office in Gaza announced the suspension of work and education at the educational institutions and postponement of employment exams that were scheduled for Tuesday until further notice, noting that work hours in the rest of governmental institutions shall be at the minimum and according to the instructions of the director of each institution.
PCHR strongly condemns the Israeli offensive and is deeply concerned over the dramatic deterioration of the security situation, fearing an inclusive explosion. Therefore, PCHR:
- Urges the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to take serious action into the situation of Palestine.
- reiterates its call upon the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention fulfil their obligations as per Common Article 1 of the Convention, “undertake to respect and to ensure respect for the present Convention in all circumstances,” and their obligations under Article 146 of the same Conventions, i.e., to hold accountable persons accused of committing grave breaches of the Convention.