Wed 06 Dec 2023 1:34 pm - Jerusalem Time

Israeli center "B'Tselem": Israel is fighting the residents of the Gaza Strip

B'Tselem's statement stated that there are two central allegations used by Israel to justify the very widespread and criminal harm to civilians as a result of this policy, and both of them are baseless and have no connection to the provisions and objectives of international humanitarian law...

Today, Wednesday, the Israeli human rights center B'Tselem issued a statement in which it said, "On Saturday, 2 December 2023, Israel bombed the Shuja'iya neighborhood in Gaza City. According to the claim of the official spokesman for the Israeli army, the aim of this bombing was to kill Wissam Farhat, who was described as “the ‘Commander of the Shuja’iyya Battalion in Hamas’ and ‘He led the battalion during Operation Protective Edge’. He participated in planning operations and ‘contributed to planning the brutal attack on Israeli territory on October 7 and sent elite gunmen that day towards a kibbutz and the Nahal Oz military site’.

B'Tselem explained, "According to preliminary reports, the attack resulted in the destruction of dozens of residential buildings and the killing of dozens. Hundreds are still buried under the rubble. Given these results, there remains no doubt about the illegality of this attack: on any attack - even if it was to achieve a legitimate military objective - to achieve the principle of proportionality, which stipulates that an attack should be refrained if the available information indicates that the harm to civilians that would be caused by the attack would be excessive compared to the expected military benefit to be achieved. Any interpretation says that the results of this can be considered a proportionality attack would empty this rule of any substance.”

The statement stated that there are two central allegations used by Israel to justify the very widespread and criminal harm to civilians as a result of this policy, and both of them are baseless and have no connection to the provisions and objectives of international humanitarian law:

According to the statement, “The first allegation is that Israel is doing everything in its power to avoid harming civilians, but Hamas hides behind citizens and uses them as human shields. Therefore, any Israeli attack on Hamas necessarily entails - and not through Israel’s fault - an attack on citizens. However, the meaning of this claim is that Israel is not subject to any restrictions and that any operation it undertakes, no matter how horrific its results, is considered legitimate. It is true that Hamas is violating the provisions of international humanitarian law, especially the duty to distinguish between civilian targets and military targets, by launching rockets from among the civilian population towards Israeli civilians and from its militants hide weapons in the homes of civilian residents and dig tunnels under them. However, this behavior does not relieve Israel of its duty to act in accordance with these provisions. The Israeli interpretation completely eliminates the rule that the fact that one party violates these provisions does not relieve the other party of its duty to implement it and adhere to it.

The statement continued in “The second claim: What Israel uses is that it informs all civilians in the places it is bombing of the necessity of leaving their homes and heading to the areas it considers ‘safe areas’. In saying this, Israel is insinuating that, for its part, there are no civilian citizens left in these places and therefore it can operate there without needing to warn of the consequences of harming civilians. This claim is disconnected from reality. First, this claim ignores the fact that many citizens have remained in their homes - some because they cannot reach the south of the Strip for various reasons and others because they chose not to leave for the South: The assumption that the area has become devoid of civilians is, therefore, a factually incorrect assumption. Secondly, even if the citizens have left, this does not mean that the area can be bombed comprehensively without neutralizing their homes, which are civilian targets, as long as it is not proven otherwise.” .

The Israeli organization stated, “Since the beginning of the war, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had made it clear that Israel would retaliate severely, and the Israeli army spokesman was quick to clarify that in this war ‘the focus will be on the amount of damage and not on accuracy.’ These statements seem very clear.” In the bombing policy that Israel has been implementing in the Gaza Strip since the beginning of the war, this policy, in which hundreds of tons of explosives were dropped on the Gaza Strip, has so far resulted in the horrific killing of more than 15,000 people, including more than 6,000 children, boys and boys, and about 4,000 women. Women. Entire residential neighborhoods have collapsed, including residential towers, and many streets have become ruins. Many are still buried under the rubble and their fate is still unknown. About 1.8 million people have been displaced from their homes so far and are crammed into inhumane conditions, without No water, no food, no medicine."

The statement continued, "The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Karim Khan, who visited Israel and the West Bank in recent days, made it clear that Israel is obligated to act in accordance with the rules and provisions that always apply to armed conflicts. He pointed out that the fighting in high density populated areas, in which militants were allegedly illegally hiding among the civilian population, is indeed complex at its core, but this does not justify ignoring the provisions of international humanitarian law. Khan stressed that Israel is obligated to act according to clear legal principles on discrimination, and taking measures of caution and proportionality, “so that legal protection is meaningful and effective towards those who need it.” He added that we must obey not only the letter of the law, but also its spirit: “International humanitarian law and the articles in the Rome Statute aim to protect the weak, and even the weakest.” 

The statement continued: “On the other hand, Israel insists on clinging to the text of the law only, and interprets it in a way completely removed from its context and objectives: it claims that it is warning the civilian population before bombing, but it ignores the fact that they have no real ability to protect themselves; and it claims that it is attacking only military targets, but it ignores its bombing of thousands of civilian homes since the start of the war. It claims that it applies the principle of proportionality, but the interpretation it gives of this principle is far from any logical and reasonable explanation, and what it describes as 'collateral damage' has so far been embodied in thousands of deaths from children".

The statement noted, “Since the end of the ceasefire, Israel has threatened to escalate the pace and intensity of the fighting in the southern Gaza Strip. It claims that the continuation of the fighting is necessary to be able to protect its citizens. There is no dispute that it is Israel’s duty to provide such protection, as long as Hamas continues to fire rockets toward Israel.” Its leaders continued to pledge that 10/7/23 was ‘nothing but a promotion.’ But Israel is relying on this claim in order to justify the criminal bombing policy it is implementing in the Gaza Strip, which mainly affects the civilian population.”

The statement concluded by saying, “Meanwhile, more than two million people have crowded into the southern Gaza Strip and have nowhere else to go. Continuing to implement this bombing policy may almost certainly lead to the killing of thousands more civilians. In such situations "Circumstances, it is clear that Israel must immediately stop implementing this policy that leads to sowing more and more death, to more and more atrocities and to deepening the humanitarian catastrophe in the Strip."


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Israeli center "B'Tselem": Israel is fighting the residents of the Gaza Strip