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Israel Collectively Punishes The Population In Gaza By Targeting Homes And Civilians

Geneva – Israel's escalation of violence and widespread bombardment, including civilian objects without respecting the principle of proportionality, in the Gaza Strip is utterly appalling, the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor said today in a statement.

Since the Israeli Army has launched military operation "Op Guardians of Walls", concerns are rising that Israel intends to continue its attack and escalate and expand its targeting range, according to the Israeli Chief of the General Staff's recommendations General Aviv Kochavi.

Israeli warplanes have been bombing dozens of sites in the Gaza Strip since Monday's evening after Palestinian armed factions fired several rockets at Israel and the occupied territories in response to the Israeli forces' attacks on Palestinians in Jerusalem, especially those in the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood.

However, the Israeli forces expanded their response to include targeting dozens of civilian objects, women and children and bombing densely populated gatherings, which may amount to a war crime under the Rome Statute.

Israel has been targeting civilian objects in the Gaza Strip in a manner that exceeds military necessities. In one of the targeted houses, an older woman, Amira Abdel Fattah Subuh, 58, was killed. Her son, Abd al-Rahman Yusef Subuh,19, a disabled young man who suffers from cerebral palsy since birth, was killed as well.

Later, the Israeli army announced that it had targeted the home of a battalion commander. But, field investigations confirm that no one was in the targeted apartment at the time of the bombing, which caused the lower flat ceiling to fall and killed the two citizens and wounded some others.

This incident is an example of Israel's bombing policy that does not consider the principle of proportionality. Israel targets civilian objects deliberately to leave victims and inflict damage and material losses as a form of revenge and collective punishment, which is prohibited by the rules of international humanitarian law.

Israel might return to this policy by deliberately targeting civilian homes, as happened in previous attacks, when hundreds of homes were destroyed, including entire residential towers. The vast majority of them were targeted during the presence of the civilian population.
Israel expanded its bombardment range today and targeted economic facilities such as an ice cream factory in the east of Gaza and educational institutions such as the Al-Salah school in Deir Al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip.

According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, until the statement was published, the airstrikes killed 26 Palestinians, including nine children, and injured 122 others.

This attack requires urgent action from the international community to bind Israel to the rules of international humanitarian law. At the same time, the International Criminal Court should include these violations in its investigation of possible crimes in the Palestinian territories.

Article 25 of the Hague Regulations concerning the Laws and Customs of War on Land says: "The attack or bombardment, by whatever means, of towns, villages, dwellings, or buildings which are undefended is prohibited. Article 53 of the Fourth Geneva Convention stipulates that "Any destruction by the Occupying Power of real or personal property[…] is prohibited, except where such destruction is rendered absolutely necessary by military operations".

Destruction of property for no clear military justifications is a grave breach of Article 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention and a war crime under the Statute of the International Criminal Court Article 8 (2) (b) (2).
Anas Aljarjawi, Euro-Med Monitor's Chief Operations Officer, said that "even in there was a military necessity, it is the occupying power's responsibility to comply with the other provisions stipulated by international humanitarian law".

"International humanitarian law provides for the prohibition of property damage as a 'preventive measure' – that is, in cases where the danger has not yet been verified. It also prohibits the destruction of property to achieve deterrence, spread terror among civilians, or take revenge".

"Israel's targeting and demolishing of civilian homes is merely a form of collective punishment of the residents of the Gaza Strip, which is a violation of international humanitarian law, especially Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention which states that 'Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or terrorism are prohibited. Pillage is prohibited. Reprisals against protected persons and their property are prohibited'."

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