Geneva - An urgent international investigation must be opened into horrific crimes committed by the Israeli army during its land incursions into the Gaza Strip, including field executions, torture, and rape threats, said Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor, citing testimonies collected from newly-released civilians.
Euro-Med Monitor said that Israeli army forces are reenacting the same crimes committed by Zionist gangs during the 1948 Nakba, which resulted in the collective displacement of Palestinians. These crimes include premeditated murder, setting fire to Palestinian homes and properties, torture, and insulting and humiliating detained civilians.
The human rights organisation highlighted the Israeli forces’ brutal storming of civilian homes in crowded residential neighbourhoods during the ongoing genocide. Members of Israel’s military terrorised and beat residents, plus arrested hundreds of them, including women, children, and sick people.
According to testimonies gathered by Euro-Med Monitor from several detainees who were newly released, the Israeli forces took the detainees from their homes, stripped them naked, and attacked them with machine guns, electric cables, and cold water.
Sixteen-year-old Muhammad Mahmoud Aslim told the Euro-Med team that the Israeli forces stormed his family’s home in Al-Shuja’iya neighbourhood, east of Gaza City, after they were trapped for an entire week without food and water. He stated that over the past few days, Israeli forces killed everyone in his neighbourhood who tried to leave their home, including Aslim’s brother.
Israeli forces later stormed his family’s house, said Aslim, and destroyed its contents with heavy gunfire. His family members were gathered naked and handcuffed before being violently assaulted and beaten. Aslim still does not know what happened to his mother and sisters, who were captured and kidnapped by the Israeli army.
The Euro-Med Monitor team has gathered statements and testimonies about Israeli special forces raiding refugee centres in Gaza City and its northern areas, which housed thousands of displaced Palestinians. These raids have involved the execution of young men who were shot with live ammunition at point-blank range.
Displaced people at the Cairo School, which houses hundreds of displaced people west of Gaza City, told Euro-Med Monitor’s team that several civilian cars carrying Israeli special forces stormed the school yard the day before yesterday (Friday), killing and wounding a number of unarmed young men. According to the testimonies, the Israeli special forces ordered all of the men in the school to quickly gather and line up opposite them. Four of the men were executed, and the others were arrested after a brief interrogation.
Muhammad Abu Mustafa said that three individuals—two from the Abdul Ghafour and Abu Zaid families and one from his own family—were shot and killed by Israeli snipers after they went to assist a neighbour in Al-Shuja’iya neighbourhood. The victims were left bleeding to death.
Similar violations were reported on Saturday by other internally displaced people at the UNRWA-run Khalifa Bin Zayed School, in the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Lahia. They reported that the Israeli forces arrested dozens of men and minors in the school. The detainees were stripped of their clothes, bound, and taken to another location, where they were interrogated and tortured. Some of them were released, while the rest were kept in custody.
One of the released men, who requested anonymity for fear of retaliation, said that they were ordered to take off their clothes after being handcuffed and blindfolded. They were then put in trucks and taken to the seashore, where they were kept shackled for about 19 hours. According to the young man, they were subjected to insults, severe beatings, threats of being shot in the head, and had numbers written on their hands. They were also deprived of drinking water for many hours.
Upon their release, they were transferred naked to Salah al-Din Street, south of Gaza City, where the soldiers ordered them to walk on foot towards the central areas of the Gaza Strip.
The Israeli random arrests also targeted a young disabled man who suffers from hemiplegia. The young man had been displaced from Al-Zaytoun neighbourhood in Gaza City to a relative’s apartment in the city centre before he and his brother were arrested; their fate remains unknown.
Ms. M.Z., a resident of Al-Zaytoun neighbourhood who was displaced to Shuhada Al-Aqsa Hospital in Deir Al-Balah, in the southern part of the Strip, said that an Israeli soldier pointed his gun at her head and threatened to kill her even though she had told him she was five months pregnant. The soldier ordered her to take off her clothes and threatened to rape her.
As it continues to document testimonies from victims of the Israeli army’s crimes and random arrests, Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor renewed its call for an urgent international investigation into Israel’s violations and crimes against civilians, and called on the United Nations to assume its responsibilities and provide a safe passage for the displaced to use to evacuate.
Israel is required by international humanitarian law to take all reasonable steps to prevent harm civilians and to guarantee their safe shelter. The Geneva-based rights organisation emphasised, however, that civilians who choose to stay in areas designated for evacuation do not forfeit their protection, and cannot be singled out or targeted for any reason.