Geneva - Israeli occupation forces executed dozens of Palestinians fleeing Gaza City and neighbouring northern areas of the Gaza Strip to the central and southern parts of the enclave, despite the displaced posing no threat, Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor attested in a statement on Monday.
These Palestinians were deliberately killed by live bullets and, in some cases, by artillery shells, while attempting to flee to the south of Wadi Gaza at the Israeli army’s request, said Euro-Med Monitor. The human rights group received reports from displaced Gazans of executions at military checkpoints set up by Israel’s army along its designated “safe corridor”, Salah al-Din Road, between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m yesterday.
Similar executions reportedly occurred in Gaza City and the Strip’s northern regions as displaced people attempted to flee hospitals, schools, and the United Nations Development Programme’s Gaza headquarters, where they had taken refuge just a few days ago.
A young woman named Hoda Hammad affirmed that a young man was shot in the head at a checkpoint set up in the Netzarim area on Salah al-Din Street while on his way to the south of Wadi Gaza. Hammad told the Euro-Med Monitor team that the shooting incident sparked panic among the displaced people, who were instructed by Israeli pamphlets to walk with their arms raised while waving white flags.
Journalist Jihad Abu Shanab affirmed that Israeli forces opened machine gunfire on a number of members of the Sakik family. The family was fleeing the Al-Rimal area in central Gaza, and suffered a number of casualties.
Awad Salim, 54, said that two young men were killed and five others were injured on Al-Wahda Street shortly after leaving the Al-Shifa Medical Complex in three successive groups.
In addition to receiving hundreds of missing person reports, the Euro-Med Monitor team has received reports of sightings of hundreds of displaced Palestinians’ bodies on roads on the outskirts of Gaza City—roads that the Israeli army had declared were “safe corridors” leading to the center and southern parts of the Strip.
Euro-Med Monitor also confirmed that artillery shelling and heavy gunfire continued in the vicinity of Al-Shifa Medical Complex and Al-Quds Hospital in Gaza City, as hundreds of displaced people left for the southern Gaza Valley. Officials inside both medical facilities said they received phone calls stressing the urgent need to evacuate the medical staff and refugees via the “safe corridor; upon following the Israeli order, they encountered a large number of bodies lying in the vicinity of the complex before live shots were fired directly at them.
When dozens of displaced people—including women, children, and the elderly—attempted to flee Al-Nasr Children’s Hospital last Saturday while waving white flags, they were met with gunfire and forced to return to the hospital.
Euro-Med Monitor raised alarm bells over the unjustified killings and targeting by Israeli army forces of Palestinian civilians who are being forced, by various means and pressure tools, to forcibly evacuate their residential areas.
The human rights organisation warned of serious consequences to the Israeli army’s orders to evacuate hundreds of wounded and sick people—including those in intensive care units and newborn babies—from hospitals in Gaza’s northern areas, without even guaranteeing their safe transportation or providing necessary life-saving equipment.
Israel ordered over a million people, approximately half of Gaza’s total population, to evacuate Gaza City and its neighbouring northern areas less than a week after it began its devastating and unprecedented war on the Strip on 7 October. Since then, Euro-Med Monitor has warned more than once of the Israeli evacuation order’s legal and humanitarian implications. The impact of the order on the safety of Palestinian civilians constitutes a forced displacement that violates international humanitarian law and may amount to a war crime, said the Geneva-based rights group.
Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor emphasised that hospitals and medical workers must be guaranteed special protection in accordance with international humanitarian law, and that any military operation or evacuation procedures around or within hospitals and civilian headquarters must take steps to safeguard and protect patients, medical workers, and other displaced persons.
Euro-Med Monitor called for the United Nations and the International Criminal Court to open an urgent independent investigation into the execution crimes to which displaced Palestinians have been subjected and are still being subjected, to hold those who ordered such crimes accountable, and to achieve justice for the victims.