Joint Press Release
3 September 2009 The Israeli authorities open investigation into Abed-Rabbo On 2 September 2009, the Israeli military police interviewed Mr.
Khalid Abed-Rabbo and his mother, Mrs.
Su'ad Abed-Rabbo, at the Erez Crossing.
The interviews mark the start of an investigation into the case, in which Israeli soldiers opened fire at close range at the Abed-Rabbo family, killing two of Khalid Abed-Rabbo's daughters and severely injuring a third.
Khalid's mother, Ms.
Su'ad Abed-Rabbo, was also injured.
The Israeli army then destroyed the family's house and more than two hundred other houses in the Ezbet Abed-Rabbo neighborhood, where the attack occurred.
The investigation into the case by the Israeli authorities was initiated after the submission of a complaint by Adalah, Al-Haq and Al Mezan to the Israeli Military Advocate General in early June 2009 demanding an investigation.
The complaint also addressed the killing of Adham Khamis Mohammad Naseir (37) who was shot and killed while trying to assist in the evacuation of Su'ad Abed Rabo.
The facts of the Abed Rabbo case According to the investigation conducted by Adalah, Al-Haq and Al Mezan into the incident, on 7 January 2009 Israeli soldiers operating in the Ezbet Abed-Rabbo neighborhood, located east of Jabalia town in the north of the Gaza Strip, used loudspeakers to order local residents to evacuate their houses.
Khalid Abed-Rabbo, who lived with his extended family in a four-story house in the neighborhood, left his house with his mother, his wife and his three daughters.
The family was carrying white flags.
They stood in front of the door of the house for about ten minutes.
There were two Israeli tanks stationed nearby, one of which was about 15 meters away from the family.
Two Israeli soldiers were sitting on top of the tank eating snacks.
A third soldier appeared from the tank's hatch and opened fire directly at the family.
The shooting lasted for about one minute.
Khalid Abed Rabbo initially thought that the soldier was aiming at the ground and firing warning shots.
However, he then saw that his mother, Su'ad, and his three daughters, Amal, Su'ad and Samar (two and a half, four, and nine respectively) were injured.
The family managed to pull the girls inside the house.
Su'ad had ran back to the house and fallen in the entrance of the house.
One of the family's neighbors, Mr.
Sameeh Al-Sheikh, who works as an ambulance driver, heard the shots and the family screaming.
He got into his ambulance, which was parked in his garage, and drove towards the Abed-Rabbo house with his son.
Israeli soldiers in the second tank obstructed the ambulance and ordered the two men to walk west and leave the neighborhood.
The three injured girls and Khalid's mother remained in the house.
They bled from their injuries for about two hours, during which time two of the girls bled to death.
Around two hours after the shooting, Khalid's father, Mr.
Mohammed Muneeb, carried one of the girls out of the house.
Israeli soldiers informed him that he and his family were allowed to leave the neighborhood on foot.
With help from their neighbors, the men carried the girls in their arms and Su'ad, the grandmother, on a bed from the house and headed out of the Ezbet Abed-Rabbo neighbourhood.
They walked for about two kilometers before being collected by an ambulance and other cars passing by, and taken to hospital.
A group of women who were walking in front of the men outside the neighborhood came across a man on a horse-drawn cart in which Mr.
Zakaria Suleiman Khalil Naseir (57), his son Musa (18) and another relative, Mr.
Adham Khamis Mohammad Naseir (37) were riding.
Naseir steered the cart towards the injured.
When it drew close to them, Israeli soldiers stationed in the Red Crescent Emergency Centre, which is located at the entrance of the Ezbet Abed-Rabbo neighborhood's Al Quds Street, opened fire on the cart, shooting Adham in the neck.
The witnesses to the incident called an ambulance, but it was unable to get close to Adham because the medics were met with heavy fire every time they attempted to approach him.
Later on, Adham was taken to the hospital.
Due to the severity of his condition, Adham was transferred for treatment abroad and later died from his injuries.
When the Abed-Rabbo family survivors returned to their home on 18 January 2009, the first day of the ceasefire after the end of Operation Cast Lead, they found their house destroyed.
Evidence at the scene showed that the house had been brought down with explosives.
Another 178 houses in the neighborhood were completely destroyed and 129 were partially destroyed.
The vast majority of the destruction took place after 7 January, when the neighborhood was under the effective control of the Israeli army.
Khalid's surviving daughter was hospitalized in Gaza for a few days before being transferred to a hospital in Belgium due to the severity of her injuries.
She remains there with her mother and two brothers.
She is paralyzed in her lower limbs.
Around eight months after her injury, her father remains unable to visit her, as he is unable to obtain a visa to enter Belgium.
Full investigations into all attacks on civilians must be held As shown in the complaint submitted by Adalah, the testimonies gathered on these cases raise serious suspicions of war crimes committed by Israeli soldiers against unarmed children, civilians and their property.
Al-Haq, Al Mezan and Adalah welcome the opening of an investigation into the cases.
The three organizations will continue to closely follow the investigation.
They expect that the rest of the survivors and eyewitnesses will be summoned to give their testimonies to the Israeli military police.
Al-Haq, Al Mezan and Adalah emphasize however that, although this investigation represents an exceptional step forward in the case, it is still just the first step towards what must be a full, objective and thorough investigation into these serious suspicions of war crimes.
Israel is responsible for the conduct of its army.
It is therefore under a clear obligation to investigate all of violations of international law by its army and to hold to account those who perpetrate such violations against civilians and their property.
Investigations must be prompt, thorough, independent and impartial and must comply with the relevant international standards.
Al Mezan and Al-Haq have investigated 25 other cases of attacks on civilians and the destruction of civilian property and, with Adalah, will demand an investigation into each one of them by the Israeli authorities.
Should the State of Israel fail to investigate the allegations correctly or sufficiently, the victims have the right to pursue justice through international mechanisms provided by international law to ensure that their right to redress and that the perpetrators are held accountable for their actions.
The three organizations also call on the Belgian government to assist Mr.
Khalid Abed-Rabbo to visit his daughter, Samar, who is expected to remain under treatment in Belgium for at least another three months.