Geneva - Israeli army forces continue to intentionally target civilians, carrying out premeditated murders and arbitrary extrajudicial executions, Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor said in a statement issued Friday. The rights group called attention to Israel’s massive attack in the west of Khan Yunis, south of the Gaza Strip, and deemed it part of their genocide in the Gaza Strip, ongoing since 7 October 2023.

Euro-Med Monitor documented the arbitrary execution and horrific premeditated murder of two brothers—one of whom was a child—by an Israeli sniper in front of their parents and other family members. The brothers were shot as they were preparing to be forcibly removed from their home in the neighbourhood of Al-Amal, located in the west of Khan Yunis, which witnessed several other Israeli massacres and crimes.

An eyewitness who requested anonymity due to safety concerns told the Euro-Med Monitor team that on Wednesday 25 January, between 10:30 and 11 a.m., 14-year-old Nahed Adel Barbakh left his home near Al-Amal Neighbourhood School holding a white flag in his hand. He was leading a group of his family members, who were getting ready to leave their home after receiving evacuation orders from the Israeli army to head towards Al-Mawasi. While attempting to cross the street, the child was immediately hit by a gunshot to his leg and fell to the ground, about three or four metres from his house.

The gunshot could be clearly heard coming from the direction of a house next to the Hassan Al-Banna Mosque on the eastern side. Within moments, it was discovered that Israeli snipers were stationed on top of one of the nearby buildings, about 100 metres away from where the child fell. Nahed attempted to stand up, but the Israeli sniper shot him again, striking him in the side. When he attempted to stand up a third time, the sniper shot him in the head once more, instantly killing him.

Trying to help his brother, 20-year-old Ramez rushed over to pull Nahed to the other side of the road and out of the Israeli sniper's range. When he reached him, however, the Israeli sniper shot Ramez in the head, causing him to topple over his brother. They remained in the middle of the road, bleeding to death, without any of their family members—including their parents—able to help them. The family watched their execution and was unable to remove their bodies.

Euro-Med Monitor highlighted that its preliminary investigations and eyewitness testimonies indicate that Nahed was entirely visible to the Israeli sniper prior to his killing, and posed no danger to Israeli forces. It was clear that Nahed was a child, the human rights organisation said, and was walking on a street commonly used by residents fleeing the area after receiving repeated Israeli evacuation orders, the most recent of which were given yesterday; Israeli forces dropped leaflets telling residents to leave their homes for the area of Al-Mawasi, west of Khan Yunis, which is what Nahed and Ramez were trying to do along with their family.

These findings indicate that the two brothers’ killing was premeditated and unnecessary, given that they did not pose a threat to the Israeli military and that the bullets targeted parts of their bodies that resulted in their swift death. Euro-Med Monitor cited this crime as further evidence of Israel’s widespread, systematic, and unjustified targeting of Palestinian civilians, pointing to a pattern of the premeditated murder and extrajudicial execution of defenseless civilians in the Gaza Strip, all of which fall within the framework of the genocidal war being carried out by Israeli army forces in the Strip.

Just one day prior to this incident, Euro-Med Monitor added, the Israeli army opened fire on four people with their hands up. The individuals were raising white flags and ID cards while they attempted to evacuate a besieged house west of the Khan Yunis refugee camp along with 50 members of their families. Ramzi Abu Sahloul was one of the people killed in the incident, reported the rights group.

Euro-Med Monitor has previously recorded numerous instances of deliberate killings by Israeli soldiers of unarmed civilians in areas that witnessed ground incursions, as well as arbitrary and extrajudicial executions without any military necessity or particular justification.

Since last Wednesday, Israeli forces have escalated their attack on the western part of Khan Yunis, especially the western camp, Al-Amal neighbourhood, and the outskirts of Al-Mawasi. The Euro-Med Monitor team has documented Israel’s bombing of five shelter centres. The most notable of these is the United Nations industrial building, which led to the killing of 14 civilians and the injury of 50 more. Several others were also killed in Israel’s attack on Al-Aqsa University and University College, while an additional number of displaced people were killed while trying to move to Rafah.

In a primary report submitted to UN special rapporteurs and the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Euro-Med Monitor has documented dozens of cases of field executions carried out by the Israeli army in the Gaza Strip, calling for an immediate investigation into these crimes, for the perpetrators to be held accountable, and for justice for all victims. The rights group submitted the initial file to Maurice Tydball Benz, the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial or arbitrary executions; Francesca Albanese, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967; Navanethem Pillay, head of the Investigative Committee on the Occupied Palestinian Territory; and Karim Khan, ICC Prosecutor.

The rights organisation called on the aforementioned parties to take a firm position on the widespread killing operations carried out by Israeli forces targeting Palestinian civilians, especially the field executions and physical liquidations in the Gaza Strip. In addition, the Geneva-based group urged the parties to take serious action within the international community in order to achieve a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, ensure a cessation of the ongoing unjustifiable killing, open a criminal investigation into all of the Israeli military’s reported atrocities, and achieve accountability and justice for every Palestinian victim and survivor. It also demanded the establishment of an international legal team, pressure to secure its entry into the Gaza Strip, and the start of an inquiry into these and other instances of Palestinian civilians being killed by Israeli forces.

Euro-Med Monitor stressed that the Israeli killings and executions are flagrant violations of international law, drawing attention to laws prohibiting the deliberate targeting or killing of civilians who are not directly involved in hostilities, as such violations could be considered war crimes, crimes against humanity, and a form of genocide.

Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor emphasised that these Israeli executions violate international standards and the right to life stipulated in Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, plus Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which stipulates that, “Every human being has the inherent right to life. This right shall be protected by law. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life.”

Euro-Med Monitor reiterated that the UN special rapporteurs and the ICC Prosecutor must launch an urgent investigation into the aforementioned violations, as well as all other war crimes that Israel has committed against civilians in the Gaza Strip, and hold those responsible for issuing and carrying out the illegal orders accountable.