Geneva - After forcing Palestinian civilians to flee from Gaza City to the area of Al-Mawasi in the Gaza Strip’s south, the Israeli army has killed these same civilians at the Wadi Gaza checkpoint in the central Gaza Strip. Israeli forces also targeted civilians waiting for aid trucks near the checkpoint, Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor reported.

As documented by the rights organisation, on Sunday 25 February, Israeli forces killed 30 Palestinians while they were waiting for relief trucks in the vicinity of the Nabulsi roundabout on Al-Rashid Street, southwest of Gaza City.

During the forced evacuation of over 300 civilians—the majority of whom were women, children, and elderly people—from Gaza City to the southern part of the Gaza Valley, which began on Thursday 22 February, the Euro-Med Monitor field team recorded horrifying testimonies of Israeli tanks firing artillery shells and bullets at them. Despite the fact that they were carrying white flags, obeying Israeli army orders, and walking on army-designated streets, they were specifically targeted. 

   I went to Al-Rashid Street to wait for the aid trucks. We discovered shooting and shells coming our way. Dozens of others who were exposed to the shells were also escaping south   

Bilal Ahmed Abdel Karim, resident of Gaza City

According to Euro-Med Monitor’s team, the civilians were forced to evacuate their residential areas of Al-Zaytoun and other Gaza City neighbourhoods. They were then instructed to move to Al-Rashid Street and from there to Al-Mawasi, in the south. Despite following the Israeli army’s instructions, they were directly targeted between 11:30 AM and 12:30 PM.

This wave of forced displacement occurred at the same time that hundreds of civilians were assembling to await aid trucks. Many were taken aback when Israeli tanks emerged and opened fire on the civilians, killing 28 people and wounding about 80 more, stated the rights organisation.

Fayez Jundiyeh, a resident of the Shuja’iyya neighbourhood in the east of Gaza City, spoke to Euro-Med Monitor about his experience. “We received messages from the Israeli army to go to Al-Rashid Street and head south on the highways, so we left at 11:00 AM on Thursday morning,” he said.

“Among the displaced were children, women, and elderly people raising white flags,” he explained. “As we arrived at the Nabulsi junction, southwest of Gaza City, the army forces suddenly opened fire on us. We fled, leaving many dead and injured.”

Added Jundiyeh: “I miraculously survived. We did not pose any danger. We complied with their message’s instructions. Instead of finding safety, we found death. I attempted to move south because hunger kills. There is no food, and a kilogram of flour now costs 120 shekels, or 31.5 dollars.”

A resident of Al-Shaaf in the Jabal Al-Rais region, in the east of Gaza City, also spoke to the Euro-Med Monitor team. “I have been displaced from one place to another since the beginning of the war,” said Nidaa Muhammad Suwaidan. “My spouse is being treated at the Gaza European Hospital in Khan Yunis, after suffering injuries from an Israeli shell.”

“The army ordered us to move south, saying that the road was safe,” Suwaidan stated. “I left with my three sons—the oldest being eight years old—as well as my brother Hassan Al-Rifai, who carried my two-year-old child Dhaif Allah Suwaidan. My nephew went with us, to wait for the flour trucks.

“There were a lot of people there, and I was hoping to see my hurt husband,” she continued. When the family got to Nabulsi Street, however, they were targeted by an Israeli tank shell: “My brother was killed and my son Dhaif was hurt; he is still in shock and does not speak. I was hit by a shrapnel. There are a lot of people dead and injured.”

A 40-year-old woman who wished to remain anonymous for safety reasons told Euro-Med Monitor that she too went to Al-Rashid Street to flee to the south of the Strip, “due to the severe hunger”, along with her three sons, ages two, seven, and eight, and her 30-year-old brother. All of a sudden, she said, there were shootings and bombings taking place: “The road was littered with hundreds of bodies, both wounded and dead. When I got back to Al-Shifa Hospital, there were so many dead and injured that it was impossible for us to move. We are dying of hunger, and we are dying of bombing.”

“I went to Al-Rashid Street to wait for the aid trucks,” a third individual told the Euro-Med Monitor team. Instead of aid, Bilal Ahmed Abdel Karim said, “[W]e discovered shooting and shells coming our way. Dozens of others who were exposed to the shells were also escaping south.

“Out of nowhere, the tanks moved closer, and started firing shells and live bullets, killing and wounding dozens. I was one of the injured.”

The Geneva-based rights group condemned the Israeli army’s unlawful killings and extrajudicial executions of Palestinian civilians who took no part in any hostilities. Euro-Med Monitor confirmed that these killings are grave violations of international humanitarian law, calling them war crimes and crimes against humanity, as well as crimes that fall under the purview of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

These crimes come as part of Israel’s genocide against the Gaza Strip’s inhabitants, Euro-Med Monitor added, ongoing since 7 October 2023. The rights organisation reiterated that the crimes are a violation of Palestinians’ right to life in accordance with international human rights law.

Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor called for the formation of an independent international investigation committee specialising in Israel’s ongoing military attack on the Gaza Strip. It also urged the international community to enable the separate independent international investigation committee concerned with the Occupied Palestinian Territory, formed in 2021, to carry out its work by ensuring its access to the Gaza Strip and opening the necessary investigations into all crimes and violations committed against Palestinians there, including the deliberate killing and extrajudicial execution of civilians.

Euro-Med Monitor also demanded that the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary executions visit the Gaza Strip as soon as feasible to look into the illegal killings that come under the purview of his substantive mandate.

In order to stop Israel from carrying out policies that violate international law—namely, bombing the populace in an effort to kill and drive Palestinians out of the Gaza Strip, plus forcing them to relocate by using starvation as a weapon of mass destruction against them—Euro-Med Monitor stressed that the international community must exert pressure on Israel using all appropriate means and techniques.