Geneva - The Israeli army has executed dozens of elderly Palestinians in the Gaza Strip in direct shooting operations, Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor said in a statement issued Friday. This incredibly vulnerable group of civilians is suffering twice over, said the rights organisation, as Israel has turned all people in the Strip into targets since the 7 October start of its ongoing genocide against Palestinians there.

Euro-Med Monitor said that 1,049 elderly men and women have been killed during the 76-day genocide—about 1% of the estimated 107,000 elderly people who live in the Gaza Strip, and 3.9% of all Palestinian deaths during the aggression. The majority of them were crushed to death under the debris of their homes or the shelter centres where they sought safety after Israeli aircraft bombed their homes, or while being forced to seek basic necessities in the streets and marketplaces. Alarmingly, however, dozens were targeted in killings and field executions.

The Geneva-based organisation stated that it had received horrifying testimony regarding killings and field executions of several people over the age of 60. These incidents included soldiers shooting elderly people immediately after ordering them to evacuate their homes, and in some cases, executing them just moments after their release from hours or days of arbitrary detention.

According to Euro-Med Monitor, the elderly Dr Akram Abu Hasira and his wife were shot and left to bleed to death by Israeli forces on Thursday 21 December, after being forcibly evacuated from their home on Yarmouk Street in Gaza City. The soldiers then set fire to their home. Their son, Dr Mahmoud Abu Hasira, reported that after the Israeli forces withdrew from the area, their family managed to bury the couple’s bodies.

Furthermore, Ahmed Suleiman Hassan Muhammad Abdel-Al, a 60-year-old mentally ill man, was shot and killed in his Jabalia camp home on 13 December, said Euro-Med Monitor. His killing occurred after Israeli soldiers stormed the camp and Abdel-Al’s home after a days-long siege on the Yemeni hospital.

Abdel Nasser Khader Haboub, 62, was also killed, Euro-Med Monitor reported, when Israeli forces fired an artillery shell at him shortly after his release from a two-day detention. This incident also claimed the lives of Palestine University’s College of Information Technology Dean Dr Ahmed Hamdi Abu Absa, 38.

An eyewitness told Euro-Med Monitor that Haboub and his family took refuge in the Holy Family School after an Israeli bombing targeted a house in which they were taking refuge, and that they had previously fled their own home due to the heavy Israeli bombing of Gaza City. The day after the family’s arrival at the school on 8 December, Israeli forces stormed the building and arrested all the men and some women, stripping the men and taking them to an unknown destination. After midnight on 10 December, the Israeli forces released a group of detainees including multiple elderly people, then targeted them only minutes later with a tank shell and a quadcopter flying over their heads, causing the death of Haboub along with the academic Abu Absa.

Euro-Med Monitor also documented the execution of an elderly man named Nawaf Muhammad Musa Al-Zaanin on 10 December, during the evacuation of the Awni Al-Harthani School in the Beit Lahia project in northern Gaza. The Beit Hanoun resident, Al-Zaanin, had been displaced with his family several times before Israeli forces stormed the school where they were taking refuge. He was shot in the head, the human rights organisation reported.

The Euro-Med Monitor team further documented the execution of Bashir Hajji, 71, of Gaza City’s Zaytoun neighbourhood. Hajji was killed by Israeli forces while attempting to cross Salah al-Din, the Strip’s main road, on 10 November. His murder occurred shortly after the Israeli army published a picture showing one of its soldiers talking to Hajji; in the picture, the soldier is pretending to be protecting and assisting Palestinian civilians during their displacement.

Hala Hajji, the granddaughter of the elderly Hajji, told the Euro-Med Monitor team that her grandfather, who appeared in the Israeli army photo, was brutally executed while crossing the displacement road. He died after being shot multiple times in the head and back, she revealed.

The human rights organisation also highlighted the execution of Dr Muhammad Eid Shabir, 77, former president of the Islamic University in Gaza, along with his wife, Rihab Muhammad Shabir, 74, on 11 November. His daughter confirmed to Euro-Med Monitor that Israeli planes bombed her aunt’s house on Abu Hasira Street in Gaza, killing five civilians, while 15 people survived the attack. The majority of victims were women and children, including her parents, her sister-in-law, Najat Ayoub Al-Helu, and her nephew, Muhammad Malik Shabir. 

“They came out alive, fleeing into the street, where my mother sent a distress message, and I heard my father’s voice calling for one of his grandchildren,” the daughter told Euro-Med Monitor. “After more than 24 hours, the survivors were forced to leave the area by the army and walk to Al-Shifa Hospital—[a group] including some wounded and elderly people—leaving the dead bodies under the rubble.

“On the way, those who went out saw my brother’s wife and nephew killed in the street,” she continued. “After the start of the truce on 25 November, my parents were found dead in the street on the opposite road to Shifa after they had been shot by an army sniper.”

Israeli aircraft bombed Gaza City’s Al-Wafa Hospital for the Elderly on 17 November, said Euro-Med Monitor. This was the sole facility providing housing and care for the elderly in the Gaza Strip, and the bombing killed Dr Medhat Muhaisen, the hospital’s director, and injured several other doctors.

All of these cases, emphasised Euro-Med Monitor, are merely examples of the killings and field executions that have occurred in areas where Israeli land incursions are taking place, resulting in the deaths of dozens of elderly people. The elderly are paying a high price for the disproportionate attacks carried out by Israeli forces, as hundreds of them have been killed in Israel’s genocide, and thousands more injured.

Euro-Med Monitor also documented the detention of numerous elderly civilians, including both men and women over the age of 70 and even 80. Testimonies from released detainees affirm that they were denied access to treatment and subjected to torture and abuse, regardless of their difficult health situation and/or advanced age.

Tens of thousands of elderly people are at serious risk of death, warned Euro-Med Monitor, given that 69% of them suffer from chronic diseases, and the majority of them have not received any medical care, as most of the hospitals are out of service. The Israeli starvation campaign is also robbing elderly Palestinians of their lives.

The rights group highlighted the distinct suffering experienced by elderly people residing in displacement camps, where there are no services or care options available to them that are appropriate for their age, health issues, inability to withstand cold weather, or frequent need to use the restroom. Notably, 700–1,000 people must use a single bathroom in these camps.

Euro-Med Monitor noted that vulnerable civilians are supposed to receive additional protection beyond what is required by international humanitarian law. However, Israel has violated all of this and turned every vulnerable group in Gaza—including women, children, and civilians—into legitimate targets amid the international community’s near-total silence and complicity.

According to Euro-Med Monitor, Israel is waging a campaign of widespread punishment and killing, and oppressing Palestinian society’s most vulnerable groups in a way that is seldom seen in the modern history of wars or armed conflicts. Israel’s genocide of Palestinians in Gaza fully unveils its blatant disregard for international humanitarian law and is a serious transgression of the principles of war.

 

Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor renewed its call on the international community, especially the signatory states to the Geneva Convention, to carry out their responsibilities to provide protection for civilians in the Gaza Strip. It further stressed that the need for a permanent ceasefire has become urgent, and that in order to stop the ongoing genocide war, an immediate international investigation must be launched into Israel’s horrific crimes. Any countries that remain silent are actively encouraging Israeli genocide, the rights group said.