Since the start of the on-going Israeli military operation codenamed, Protective Edge, the Israeli occupation forces (IOF) have targeted hundreds of civilian objects in the Gaza Strip. In addition to directly attacking homes – frequently with inhabitants inside them – the IOF has directed attacks on municipality crews, including the Costal Municipalities Water Utility (CMWU) crews, and health facilities and health workers. Three individuals were killed in these attacks while one sustained critical injuries; two service vehicles were damaged. Moreover, several water and sanitation networks have been damaged in IOF attacks, along with five hospitals, Red Crescent ambulance centers and an ambulance damaged in an attack in which four ambulance crewmembers were injured. These attacks weaken the ability of these facilities to operate and the workers to deliver services that are considered essential for the survival and wellbeing of the civilian population. The attacks are unlawful under international law.
At approximately 9:25 pm on Wednesday, 9 July 2014, Israeli aircraft attacked an agricultural field near the Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) emergency center in Jabaliya in the North Gaza district. As a result, the director of the emergency center, Yousif Abdel Hammed, and paramedics, Ramadan Hosou, Merwan Hamouda, and Iyad Basyouni, sustained moderate injuries. They were referred to the Al Quds Hospital. The emergency center’s building also sustained severe physical damage,while three ambulances were also damaged. The PRCS was forced to transfer its field and administrative work to the Al Awda Hospital in Tal Az-Za’tar in Jabalia.
At approximately 2:25 am on Friday, 11 July 2014, Israeli aircraft fired four missiles targeting the fifth and sixth floors of the Al Wafa Rehabilitation Hospital in Al Sheja’iya neighborhood, east of Gaza City. This hospital is the only one in Gaza that is specialized in providing care for people with severe and complex impairments and for people in comas. As a result of the attack, the two floors were severely damaged, and no casualties or injuries were reported.
According to information gathered by Al Mezan, at approximately 4:42am on Saturday, 12 July 2014, an IOF warplane fired one missile at the building of the Mebarat Palestine for the Disabled in Beit Lahiya town in the North Gaza district. This NGO provides care for people with severe and complex impairments . As a result, two women with disability were killed:
Soha Abu Sa’da, 38; and
Ola Wishahi, 31.
Another four people were injured from shrapnel; three of whom have a disability and one working at the NGO. They were identified as:
Ahmad Al A’war, 26; (disabled)
Mai Hamada, 31; (disabled)
Sali Saqer, 19; (disabled) and
Salwa Abu Al Qomsan; (carer).
They sustained wounds from shrapnel to different parts of their bodies and hospital sources informed Al Mezan that their conditions were critical.
Moreover, the building which hosts the Mebarat Palestine for the Disabled was totally destroyed in the attack. The two-story building is owned by Alaa’ Al ‘Aklouk, and its second floor is not rented. The Mebarat Palestine provides clinical, physiotherapy and psychological services for people with severe impairments. Nineteen people with disability are normally treated there; 14 of whom had left the facility for the weekend and were not present when the attack took place.
Kamal Odwan Hospital, located in Beit Lahiya town, the Al Awda Hospital in Tal Az-Za’tar neighborhood in Jabalia, and the Balsam Hospital in Beit Hanoun town were also damaged due to IOF attacks on houses and/or open fields nearby. As the windowpanes in the hospitals shattered from the attacks, the sound of explosions and breaking glass caused panic among the patients and the crews.
At approximately 4:00 am on Friday, 11 July 2014, medical sources announced the death of Adnan Al Ashhab, 41. He had been injured two days earlier in an IOF airstrike at around 8:00 am. Al Ashhab was a municipality worker and was targeted while he was fixing a water-well in the Al-Moghraga village in the Middle Gaza district.
In another attack on municipality crews, at approximately 12:10 pm on Friday, 11 July 2014, Israeli warplanes targeted a car belonging to the municipality of the Al Bureij refugee camp. A number of municipality workers were inside the car when it was attacked. tow of them were killed in the attack, and they are:
Mazen Aslan, 52;
Shahraman Abu Al Kas, 40;
In addition, two other passersby were injured in this attack, including one girl, Salwa Al Qreenawi, 10 years, whose injury was described by medial sources as critical, and Salem Al Qreenawi, 20. The mayor of Al Bureij informed Al Mezan that this car was moving around to transport municipality workers to and from home for the four days prior, and that it was the only car the musicality had allowed to move under the critical conditions.
At approximately 11:05 am on Saturday, 12 July 2014, Israeli aircraft attacked a vehicle for the CMWU near Hejazi Petroleum Station west of Rafah city near a CMWU water well. The driver was leaving the location to return to the CMWU office after finishing the night shift of the Utility’s staff who put the water supply on for people in the area served by the water well. As a result of the attack, Zayid Al Shawi, 42, was critically injured in the head. Al Shawi is married and has five children. He is still receiving medical treatment in the intensive care unit at Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza City.
At approximately 1:50 pm on Thursday, 10 July 2014, an Israeli drone fired one missile at a motorcycle that was travelling on Abu Baker Street west of Rabe’a Al ‘Adawiya School, west of Rafah. As a result, three people were injured. Al Mezan has identified them as follows:
Jawad Ahmed Al Qadi, 53, the motorcycle driver;
Abdullah Jbara Rahwan, 30, who was in the place of the attack; and
Mohammed Kayed Al ‘Akar, 28, an employee at the Gaza Electricity Distribution Company, who was coincidentally there.
They were admitted to the An-Najjar Hospital in Rafah where the injury of Al Qadi was described as critical.
The Al Mezan Center for Human Rights deplores the IOF attacks on humanitarian and medical crews and facilities in the Gaza Strip. These crews and facilities are protected under international law and it is prohibited to direct armed attacks at them or to disrupt their work as thatdeprives civilians from essential services. Al Mezan condemns the IOF attacks on the buildings for people with severe and complex impairments whose vulnerabilities are even more exposed during armed conflict where the necessary infrastructure is being destroyed.
Al Mezan calls on the international community, including the United Nations and the ICRC, to intervene immediately, to condemn these attacks publicly, and provide protection for these facilities and their crews so that they can deliver the necessary services to the population. The IOF’s violations must be investigated and prosecuted as per the relevant rules of international law.