Palestinian Territory - In blatant violation of international law, particularly international humanitarian law, the Israeli army has executed 13 children by direct shooting in Al-Shifa Medical Complex and its Gaza City environs. This is a war crime and a crime against humanity, and is part of the genocide that the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip having been experiencing for the past six months.

For over a week now, the Israeli army has been conducting systematic and horrifying military operations inside and around Al-Shifa Medical Complex. These crimes include extrajudicial executions and deliberate killings of Palestinian civilians. The Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor field team has received identical testimonies about the killings and executions of Palestinian children between the ages of four and 16.

Some of the fatal shootings occurred during an Israeli army siege while the victims’ families were inside their homes; others occurred when the victims attempted to escape via routes that the Israeli army had designated as “safe”  after forcibly evacuating them from their homes and places of residence.

Palestinian Islam Ali Salouha lives close to Al-Shifa Medical Complex. Salouha stated that Israeli forces killed his sons Ali, nine, and Saeed Muhammad Sheikha, six, in front of their families and fellow locals. They specifically targeted the children, he said, with live bullets.

According to Salouha, the family chose to stay in their apartment with several other residents because there was no safe way for them to leave after more than a week of Israeli forces besieging them inside their home amid frequent raids.

He explained that on the afternoon of Sunday 24 March 2024, the Israeli army ordered everyone in the vicinity, through loudspeakers, to leave their residential area immediately or face having their home bombed. As a result, the residents were forced to leave the area with a number of their neighbours and cross a corpse-strewn road that the Israeli army had designated for travel.

Salouha said that they were only able to walk for 10s of metres before they were suddenly exposed to intense gunfire, which targeted the two children, Ali and Saeed, in particular. The children then fell in front of them, their bodies covered in blood.

As they attempted to pull the two kids off the ground, he said, the Israeli forces opened fire on them again, forcing them to leave Ali and Saeed on the ground and to continue walking.

Salouha emphasised that his son Ali was killed in a field execution crime after he had been deprived of food for days because of the Israeli siege. He also pointed out that the area around Al-Shifa Medical Complex had become a hotspot for field executions and murders, with the bodies of the victims discovered in the streets serving as evidence.

The Israeli army launched a massive military operation on 28 March targeting Al-Shifa Medical Complex, turning it into a military barracks and transforming the surrounding area into a military zone, amid non-stop air and artillery bombardment and live fire.

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on arbitrary or extrajudicial executions must take urgent action to investigate and document the killings committed by Israeli forces in and near Al-Shifa Medical Complex, and push for effective measures to hold the perpetrators and those who gave the orders accountable.

Euro-Med Monitor draws attention to the need of protecting Palestinian children, who are more vulnerable to the ongoing Israeli crimes in the Gaza Strip and who are not being afforded any protection under international law. Instead, the Israeli army has turned them into a clear and present target for murders, executions, and indiscriminate targeting, in addition to denying them food, shelter, and medical care.

Since Palestinian children make up more than one-third of the dead victims of Israel’s crimes in the Gaza Strip, ongoing since 7 October 2023, accounting for 14,405 of the 40,156 total dead, the killing of these children by the Israeli army in such a systematic and widespread manner is clearly intentional. This serves as further evidence of Israel’s genocide against the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip, as well as its deliberate destruction of entire generations of Palestinians living there.

The international community must act swiftly and forcefully to defend Palestinian civilians from Israel’s nearly six-month-long genocide in the Gaza Strip. It must also employ effective pressure to put an end to Israel’s grave crimes there, such as its attacks on Al-Shifa Medical Complex and other medical facilities, and must ensure that Israel complies with the requirements of international law and the rules of war, which specify the need to protect civilians and not target them for any reason.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) must act immediately to hold Israel accountable for its crimes that fall under its jurisdiction. It also needs to prioritise working on and investigating what is happening in the Gaza Strip, given that the gravity of the crimes committed there have an impact on global peace and security.

The international community must step in and force Israel to abide by yesterday’s UN Security Council resolution, which requires an immediate ceasefire, as well as the 26 January ruling of the International Court of Justice (ICJ).