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News Brief: Al Mezan issues factsheet on Israel’s bombing of agricultural supplies warehouse during May bombardment

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28 November 2021 |Reference 58/2021

On Sunday, 28 November 2021, Al Mezan Center for Human Rights issued a fact sheet titled, “Israel’s Bombing of the Khudair Group’s Warehouse in North Gaza”. The factsheet examines Israel’s May 2021 bombing of the warehouse, the subsequent fire, and its repercussions on public health and the environment.


As background, the Khudair Group is a Palestinian corporate group specialized in the import and marketing of agricultural supplies in the Gaza Strip. During the May bombardment, Israeli artillery shelled the Group’s warehouse, which is about 6,750 square meters in size and located in As-Siyafa in Beit Lahia, North Gaza, ultimately destroying it and forcing families in the vicinity to leave their homes due to the intense smell of burning chemicals.


The factsheet describes the incident and the ensuing material losses, and highlights in particular the incident’s possible adverse effects on the environment, public health, and the local agricultural sector, based on Al Mezan’s documentation, victims’ testimonies, and expert opinions.


It is important to note that several residents came forward within the course of the investigation to report skin rashes, in some cases that are still occurring today, miscarriages and other relevant symptoms following the incident. To date, unpleasant smells released from the site reportedly continue to cause suffocation and insomnia for many residents.


The factsheet also notes that Israel’s deliberate attack on the warehouse—an object that was clearly civilian in nature—constitutes a serious violation of international law that may amount to a war crime.


The fact sheet offers the following recommendations to the international community and relevant Palestinian authorities:

  1. The international community must uphold its legal and moral obligations vis-à-vis the protected Palestinian people and ensure Israel’s respect of international humanitarian law, particularly the Fourth Geneva Convention.
  2. A serious, comprehensive investigation into the incident must be launched, and relevant international bodies must be duly informed, including the commission of inquiry established by the Human Rights Council, in order to ensure full accountability for alleged crimes and guarantee redress for victims.
  3. The Palestinian Ministry of Health is urged to form a specialized medical committee aimed at providing residents of As-Siyafa with urgent medical attention, particularly in light of the emerging reports of skin rashes and miscarriages.
  4. Following the safe disposal of hazardous waste, the Ministry of Agriculture should continue conducting tests of the soil, water, and crops in the affected area to ensure their freedom from contaminants.
  5. Close follow-up is needed from the Water and Environment Quality Authority to deter any deterioration of the current environmental crisis. To this end, the creation of special units at central landfills for the safe and permanent disposal of hazardous waste is strongly urged.
  6. Mobilize in support to the Khudair group to ensure the resumption of their work and its vital contribution to Gaza’s agricultural sector.