Human rights group B’Tselem exposes — and protests to the Israeli government — home demolitions, Gaza style.
They fled when the flyers fell from the sky, Israeli military orders dropped like confetti on the masses. Evacuate, they said, or else. Seek shelter now.
One week of sorties, and Ibrahim made the call: We leave now — my wife and I, our seven children, our children’s children.
But the Abu Shuqah family never found shelter. The closest they came was a cardboard factory — somewhere between Bureij and Nusseirat, two refugee camps along Gaza’s coastal flats.
“We stayed in the storeroom about two weeks,” Ibrahim recalled. “There were mattresses, water, gas, and electricity there. Things were good.”
Things were “good” — until the shelling began.
To internalize that familiar refrain about Gaza — that nowhere there is safe — consider the life-or-death moves of a father and his kin. That, in one sense, is the key takeaway of “Black Flag,” the latest in a slew of reports — this one by the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem — about “Operation Protective Edge” and its lethal prosecution.
B’Tselem’s report, released today, explores “the legal and moral implications” of one particularly efficient Israeli tactic during this summer’s assault: targeting residential buildings. The group estimates that just over a quarter of Palestinian fatalities during the “fighting” owe to this tactic, which claimed 606 lives — 70 percent of them “either under 18, over 60, or women.”
B’Tselem investigated 70 such incidents, including the operation’s first. “On the first day of the fighting,” the report recounts, “the military attacked the Kaware’ family home. The house collapsed. Nine people, including five children aged 7 to 14, were killed.”
“Even if the Israeli cabinet thought this policy would bring an end to attacks on Israeli communities, it should not have implemented it because of its foreseeable, horrifying consequences as well as because of the black flag of illegality flying over it.”
Of course, B’Tselem’s report coincides with the recent Palestinian decision to sign the Rome Statute, a precondition for leveling war crimes charges against Israeli leaders at the International Criminal Court. B’Tselem, though, stops short of naming Israel’s actions “crimes” under international humanitarian law, or IHL. It concludes instead that, “at least in some cases, the military’s actions ran contrary to IHL provisions...Read More