On Monday, 30 October 2017 at around 12:00 pm, explosions were heard on the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip, southeast of Deir Al Balah, in Gaza’s Middle Area. Eye witnesses reported seeing pillars of smoke after hearing the explosions near the Kisovim area where the Israeli military said it targeted a tunnel claimed to be “reaching into Israel and in breach of the country’s sovereignty.”
Paramedics began searching for missing persons at the site after it was confirmed that a number of individuals were inside the tunnel at the time of the explosion. The search continued into the night; seven dead and 18 injured were found and taken to Al Aqsa Hospital in Deir Al Balah town.
The paramedics and Civil Defense first responders who attended the site were also treated at the hospital, reportedly being in shock and experiencing difficulty breathing. “When the injured [paramedics and first responders] were brought to the hospital, most complained of dizziness and blurred vision”, said Dr. Kamal Khattab, director of Al Aqsa Hospital. “Some showed signs of agitation and shock, as they were the first to tend to the victims of the attack.”
Al Mezan Center for Human Rights denounces this latest attack by the Israeli military as an attack carried out without imminent necessity or effective warning. The attack forms part of the systematic violations of international law that include the use of force contrary to both law enforcement principles and international humanitarian law. It comes in the context of continuing violations in the form of the closure and blockade policy and military attacks on the civilian population in the access resricted areas, targeting principally fishermen, farmers and protestors.
Al Mezan demands that the international community assumes an active role in preventing similar attacks by the Israeli military and stresses that chronic impunity has encouraged the perpetration of international law violations. Al Mezan calls on the international community—particularly the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention—to take steps to stop further escalation, and to protect the civilian population in accordance with international law.