The attacks by the Israeli occupation forces (IOF) have killed 28 women in the Gaza Strip and injured at least 183 as of 1 PM on 14 July 2014, which is eight days since the start of Operation Protective Edge. Most of the women were killed in their homes in direct IOF bombardments.
After monitoring the developments on the ground, it is clear that the IOF insists on two particular issues: 1) that targeting civilians and civilian property is acceptable if there is any link with an alleged resistance fighter, and 2) that first alerting civilians to an impending attack, usually by firing ‘roof knock’ missiles onto their houses, is an effective warning method. The victims of the attacks on, or near, people’s houses, including 'warning’ missile attacks, have claimed many lives in Gaza in the past seven days, including those of women.
According to information collected by the Al Mezan, the IOF airstrikes have killed three women in three separate attacks on houses in the Middle Gaza district. Another four women, two children and a man were also injured in these attacks. These women are only a few of the dozens of civilians killed in the attacks; the way they lost their lives gives further evidence to the illegality and brutality of these attacks, which violate international law.
At approximately 7:30am on Sunday, 13 July 2014, IOF drones fired two 'warning’ or ‘roof knocking’ missiles at the home of Ahmad Al Oudat, 36, in the Al Maghazi refugee camp in the Middle Gaza district. Less than a minute later, an IOF war jet fired a heavy missile at the house. Ahmed and his wife managed to make it out of the house in time; however, members of his family who live in a separate house next door were not able to evacuate in time, particularly the women and a child.
Laila Al Oudat, 37, was killed from a shrapnel injury to her head, and 65-year-old Fatima Al Oudat sustained a critical injury to her head and fractures in her chest and abdomen. Another woman, 'Abla Al Oudat, 40, and her son, Yaser, 14, were injured. Given the speed of the second attack and the panic caused by the first 'warning' attack, this family had no chance of surviving unharmed.
At approximately 7:30pm on Saturday, 12 July 2014, IOF drones fired two 'warning’ missiles at the house of Jom'a Khalifa, 65. The three-story house is located in the An Nuseirat refugee camp, with three families of 29 persons living there. During the attack, shrapnel from the second 'warning' missile hit a 25-year-old mother, Khalwa Al Hawajri, who was in her apartment on the top floor. She was preparing the Ramadan breakfast meal, ‘iftar’, for her family.
She sustained injuries to the head, heart, and lungs and was confirmed dead at the hospital.
Khawla's husband informed Al Mezan that their two children, Lynn, 3, and Aseel, 10 months, were near their mother when she was hit by the missile. “It is a miracle they survived this crime, but now they will have to live without their mother,” he said.
He added that a 'warning’ missile hit the house next door, which belongs to the Al Hawajri family, and that three minutes after his wife was killed, IOF war planes fired a heavy missile at the Khalifa's house, completely destroying it.
At approximately 5:30am on Sunday, 13 July 2014, IOF warplanes fired two heavy missiles at a street called Al Madakhat (the pumps) Street, which branches off from the Salah Ad-Deen Street in the town of Al Zawaydeh in the Middle Gaza district. The missiles created deep holes in the street and destroyed several houses nearby.
One of the houses – a poorly constructed home with roofs of asbestos – belongs to a 60-year-old woman, Suad Abu Harb, and her family. The attack hit the street about 20 meters from the house. Rwaida Abu Hard, 35, was killed in her bed and another two women and a man were injured: Hanan, Sanaa' and Marwan Abu Harb. A fourth child from a neighboring house, Yamen Al Hameedi, 4, sustained critical injuries to the head and arm.
Mohammed Abu Harb, 32, who lives in the Abu Harb house informed Al Mezan that the family woke up when they heard the loud explosion and they found debris falling on them from the roof.
“When we checked the room near the street, in which my sisters usually sleep, we found Rwaida covered in blood in her bed,” he said adding that “ambulances could not reach the house and we had to carry her on a blanket.” At the hospital, Rwaida was announced dead.
The damage from the missiles, which includes the partial destruction of the sewage pipes in the neighborhood, poses a continued threat to the health of the residents.
The Al Mezan Center for Human Rights expresses its dismay at the IOF attacks on homes, which involve the employment of tactics that are unlawful as well as lethal to the civilian population in Gaza. Directing attacks on houses and civilians is absolutely prohibited under international law; the attacks must stop and must be investigated properly.