Reports: IDF Deliberately Shot Unarmed Civilians, ICRC Rescue Workers In Gaza
Reports from the Red Cross and international human rights groups accuse Israeli troops of deliberately shooting and killing unarmed civilians attempting to flee for their lives in Gaza, as well as medical personnel attempting to rescue the injured.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has reported emergency medical workers, ambulances and civilian volunteers have all come under Israeli attack as they attempted to rescue civilians injured during the ferocious month-long air, land and sea bombardment of the densely populated strip.
On July 25, ambulances from the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) were attacked by Israeli forces as they attempted to rescue wounded civilians in Beit Hanoun. The vehicles were clearly marked with the Red Crescent emblem when they were attacked. One medical rescue worker was killed and three others seriously injured in the attack.
Also on July 25, ICRC reported one of its volunteers was fatally wounded while working in Khuza’a. Israeli troops also fired on other volunteers who attempted to rescue him.
The main PRCS hospital and administrative facility in Gaza has also been attacked by Israeli forces, and 40 of its emergency workers have been wounded while on duty. Some 26 ambulances have also been damaged. Many ICRC ambulances have been shot at while attempting to rescue injured civilians.
Doctors, nurses, medical rescue personnel and ambulance drivers described the horrific and dangerous conditions under which they must work, sometimes narrowly avoiding death as they attempt to save others.
Paramedic Mohammed Abu Jumiza recounted his close call to Amnesty International:
“We were on our way back to Nasser hospital, driving with the lights and sirens on as always. The ambulance was clearly marked as such. The doctor, nurse and I were all wearing medical uniforms. When we reached the Islamic University I heard an explosion right next to us and the front and back windows of the car fell out. As I was turning another missile hit next to us, and then a third one. When the fourth missile hit, I lost control and we crashed, so we ran out of the car and found shelter in a building. Then there were two more missiles fired and some people were injured.”
ICRC officials condemned the Israeli attacks on its personnel.
“We condemn in the strongest possible terms the attacks against medical personnel and ambulances which have occurred in Gaza over the past two weeks,” said Jacques de Maio, head of the ICRC delegation for Israel and the occupied territories.
Human Rights Watch has published a disturbing report accusing Israeli forces of apparent war crimes throughout Gaza.
Terrified Palestinian civilians fleeing Khuza’a described their harrowing attempt to reach the relative safety of Khan Younis. HRW investigated several incidents in which there were no Hamas or other resistance fighters present but Israeli troops opened fire on civilians fleeing the battle-blasted town.
On the morning of July 23, Israeli forces ordered a group of about 100 Khuza’a residents to vacate a home in which they were sheltering. The first person to leave the home had his hands raised in the air, but he was shot in the jaw and seriously wounded.
Israeli soldiers seized the men and boys over the age of 15, with some taken into Israel for interrogation. Others were released in small groups throughout the day. As one unarmed group walked to Khan Younis, Israel troops allegedly opened fire on them, killing one person and wounding two others.
In a separate July 23 incident, Israeli troops opened fire on a group of Khuza’a civilians ordered to leave their homes. One man was killed.
On July 25, an Israeli air strike killed three civilians who were among 120 people sheltering in the basement of a Khuza’a home. Another 15 people were wounded in the strike. The survivors then walked in groups toward Khan Younis, carrying white flags and raising their hands in the air whenever they encountered Israeli troops. One of the groups was hit by an Israeli missile, which killed one person and wounded another.
“When will there be justice for the civilians in Khuza’a, who suffering shelling for days, then faced deadly attacks by Israeli soldiers after being ordered to leave the town?” asked HRW Middle East and North Africa director Sarah Leah Whitson.
“Deliberate attacks on civilians who are not participating in the fighting are war crimes,” HRW noted.
Earlier in the war, the Palestinian advocacy group International Solidarity Movement released a video, also published in the New York Times and Newsweek, allegedly showing an unarmed and wounded Palestinian civilian being repeatedly shot by an Israeli sniper in the devastated Shejaiya neighborhood of Gaza City.
In past Gaza wars, Israeli troops have acknowledged shooting and killing unarmed civilians, including women and children waving white flags of surrender. During the 2008-2009 Cast Lead invasion, Israeli troops testified that they shot old women and mothers with young children.
“That’s the beauty of Gaza, you see a man walking, he doesn’t have to have a weapon and you can shoot him,” IDF soldier Danny Zamir was told by a superior officer when he questioned an order to shoot an elderly woman.
Another IDF soldier said he was ordered to shoot an old woman crossing a street.
“It was cold-blooded murder,” the soldier said.
During Cast Lead, leading Israeli media also reported IDF using Palestinian children as human shields and deliberately shooting children.
Israel’s month-long Operation Protective Edge offensive against Hamas and other militant resistance fighters in Gaza has killed nearly 1,900 Palestinians, most of them innocent civilians — including more than 430 children, and wounded more than 10,000 others. Sixty-four Israeli troops, two Israeli civilians and a Thai agricultural worker have been killed by Palestinian forces.
Last month, the United Nations Human Rights Council voted 29-1 to investigate possible Israeli war crimes committed during Protective Edge. The United States cast the lone dissenting vote.
The US State Department has condemned one of Israel’s numerous deadly attacks on a UN school sheltering Gaza refugees as “appalling” and “disgraceful,” even while approving $225 million in additional military aid to Israel and allowing Israel to replenish its munitions from US stock.
Israel claims its forces go to extraordinary lengths to avoid civilian casualties, and blames Hamas, which operates in and around civilian infrastructure in heavily populated areas, for the high death and injury toll.
Tagged Amnesty International Gaza, gaza civilian casualties, gaza war, Human Rights Watch Gaza, ICRC, ICRC Gaza, Israel, Israel attacking ambulances, Israel deliberately shooting civilians, Operation Protective Edge, Red Crescent, Sarah Leah Whitson