7th of July 2017 marks the third anniversary since Israel’s relentless military assault on Gaza codenamed “Operation Protective Edge” (OPE). The downpour of Israel’s military might lasted for 51 days, leaving thousands of casualties, destroying more than ten thousand houses, public facilities and private properties, and resulting in systematic violations of human rights and international humanitarian law (IHL).
Three years have passed since the assault, yet the effects are still visible today. Tens of thousands of people are still displaced after their homes had been destroyed, mostly living under unstable and difficult humanitarian conditions having lost their livelihoods. They are still waiting for their destroyed homes to be reconstructed. In addition, destruction of industrial and commercial structures – many of which are also waiting for reconstruction – has further exacerbated the living conditions of Gaza’s population that is still recovering from the effects of two previous attacks and the Israeli-imposed ten-year long closure. Thousands of factory owners, workers and their families have lost their livelihoods and are now dependent on humanitarian aid.
The failure of the international community to uphold their moral and legal obligations towards the victims and ensure respect of IHL – particularly Articles 1 and 146 of the Fourth Geneva Convention – have exacerbated the feeling of agony, frustration and disappointment among the victims.
According to Al Mezan’s documentation, Israeli forces killed 2,219 people including, 556 children and 299 women. 2,647 children 1,442 women were injured. During the course of the onslaught, Israeli forces destroyed 31,981 houses and residential buildings, many of which contained multiple housing units. At least 8,381 of those were destroyed beyond repair, including 1,718 residential buildings, leaving 60,623 people displaced, including 30,842 children and 16,526 women. The number of destroyed houses given above does not include tens of thousands of houses and facilities that sustained medium to minor damages. During the attack, Israeli forces forced roughly 520,000 people, mostly children and women, to flee their homes without providing safe places and shelters. Moreover, attacks on shelters hosting displaced people, hospitals, medical crews and facilities spread fear and trauma among civilians.
Al Mezan Center for Human Rights strongly condemns all the serious violations of international law; including suspected war crimes, committed in the Gaza Strip. The international community has failed to uphold their obligations, particularly to take all necessary measures to lift the closure and blockade, help rebuild Gaza and end impunity for gross violations and war crimes, which will only continue to be the norm as long as the international community’s failure to secure effective protection for civilians and insist on accountability and redress.
Al Mezan further emphasizes the importance of continued efforts to fight for justice and prosecute all those responsible for war crimes. Al Mezan calls on the international community to take immediate steps to: