Palestinian territory- The Israeli army’s repeated killings of Palestinian civilians by deliberately running them over alive with military vehicles was vehemently denounced by Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor on Sunday, as was the widespread destruction of civilian property. These crimes are part of Israel’s genocide against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, the rights group said, ongoing since 7 October 2023.

Euro-Med Monitor documented the Israeli army’s killing of a Palestinian man who was deliberately run over in Gaza City’s Al-Zaytoun neighbourhood on 29 February after he was arrested. The man was subjected to harsh interrogation by members of the Israeli army, who bound his hands with plastic zip-tie handcuffs before running him over with a military vehicle from the bottom to the top of his body.

The incident occurred on the main Salah al-Din Street in the Zaytoun neighbourhood, according to eyewitnesses who spoke to the Euro-Med Monitor team. Israeli soldiers restrained the victim’s hands before they crushed him, and tramped on his body from the legs up, confirming that he was alive during the incident. To guarantee thorough and complete crushing, the victim was placed on asphalt rather than in an adjacent sandy area.

The victim’s mutilated body and the surrounding area bear obvious signs that a military bulldozer or tank was present. It appears that the victim was purposefully stripped of his clothes, as he was seen wearing only his underpants at the time of his death.

The ramming operation occurred before the Israeli army withdrew to the outskirts of the Zaytoun neighbourhood two days ago, as evidenced by the condition of the entrails and other body parts, which had not yet decomposed when the case was documented.

Another documented incident took place on 23 January, when an Israeli tank ran over members of the Ghannam family while they were sleeping in a shelter caravan in the Taiba Towers area of Khan Younis. As a result, a man and his eldest daughter were killed, and his remaining three children and wife were injured. Amina, his 13-year-old daughter, confirmed that her father and older sister were killed when an Israeli tank unexpectedly and repeatedly ran over the caravan, where the family had been sleeping. While her mother and two other siblings survived the attack, Amina experienced extreme pressure in her eyes, nearly losing her sight.

Euro-Med Monitor also documented Israeli tanks and bulldozers running over and crushing displaced people inside their tents in Beit Lahia’s Kamal Adwan Hospital courtyard on 16 December 2023. Several people were killed during the incident, including individuals who were initially injured and did not ultimately survive. The corpses of those who had been previously buried in the courtyard were also crushed in the 16 December incident, stated the rights group.

More recently, a Palestinian family survived a 20 February running attack after Israeli tracks ran over their tent on the shore of the Khan Yunis Sea. A female civilian said that she was shocked by the tank suddenly running over her tent.

In addition, Euro-Med Monitor has documented numerous incidents of Israeli army tanks destroying civilian property, particularly cars, during Israel’s ground incursions into different parts of the Gaza Strip. Most of these tank attacks have targeted vehicles parked in the streets without any military affiliation, indicating the Israeli army’s deliberate and systematic destruction of Palestinian property.

Euro-Med Monitor affirmed that all of these violations are part of a larger Israeli effort to dehumanise every Palestinian in the Gaza Strip, in order to justifiy and normalise the crimes being committed against them. Crushing civilians with tanks is just one of the many cruel ways the Israeli army murders Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, disregarding their humanity, suffering, and dignity. These practices reflect the desire of Israel’s government and military to collectively punish the Palestinian people, with the aim of eliminating, intimidating, and/or harming them physically and psychologically. These crimes come alongside a public incitement campaign by Israeli officials, media figures, and settlers calling for the annihilation of Palestinians in Gaza, and are also a result of the total impunity enjoyed by the perpetrators—evident by the absence of any meaningful action being taken to hold them accountable by any party or at any level.

The human rights organisation warned that the Israeli army has escalated its premeditated murders, extrajudicial executions, and judicial killings against Palestinian civilians since 7 October through direct targeting with snipers, drones, and running operations in various regions of the Gaza Strip. According to Euro-Med Monitor, these actions amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity under the Rome Statute Basic Law of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

There is no justification for the Israeli army to commit these serious crimes, Euro-Med Monitor confirmed. Even its claim that some of the aforementioned acts were directed towards Palestinian fighters does not release Israel from criminal responsibility, seeing as international law protects both civilians and fighters who have given up or lost all means of defense, with the Rome Statute classifying their killing or wounding as war crimes. The Israeli army’s deliberate and widespread destruction of Palestinian property, carried out in an irresponsible manner and without military necessity, also qualifies as a war crime under the Rome Statute.

In parallel to taking all necessary steps to ensure Israel’s accountability for the crimes it commits against the Palestinian people, Euro-Med Monitor reiterated its call for the international community to immediately implement its international obligations to stop the genocide that Israel has been committing against all Palestinians in the Gaza Strip for roughly five months now.

In light of the fact that the ICC has not yet taken any action or filed any charges in relation to the investigations it is supposed to be carrying out into the situation in the Gaza Strip, Euro-Med Monitor expressed deep concern about the ICC Prosecutor’s performance regarding the genocide taking place there. Genocide is one of the most serious international crimes, with catastrophic consequences for civilians. The Court has not said anything about the crimes committed by Israel in the Gaza Strip, even in the face of a plethora of evidence presented by Israeli officials and soldiers themselves, as well as warnings and documentary reports from international organisations, the United Nations and its experts, and the governments of many other nations. The ICC’s last update on the situation in Palestine was posted on 17 November 17 on its official website. This raises serious questions and concerns about its independence and integrity, as well as the extent to which it can perform its duties without becoming politicised or impacted by standards of duality and selective justice.

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 work of a 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 Strip and opening the necessary investigations into all crimes and violations committed against Palestinians there, including the deliberate killing and extrajudicial execution of civilians.

The rights group 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 fall under the purview of his substantive mandate.