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As Israel's war on Gaza enters its 60th consecutive day, Mass killings and forced displacement orders persist, along with an Israeli ground invasion

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5 December 2023

5 December 2023

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), Al Mezan, and Al-Haq warn of the unprecedented humanitarian repercussions of the large-scale Israeli military aggression across the entire Gaza Strip, particularly in Khan Younis. We stress the urgent need for the international community’s intervention to secure a ceasefire and compel Israel to halt its genocidal campaign in Gaza.

On Monday evening, 4 December 2023, Israeli warplanes launched one of the most extensive attacks that continued almost uninterrupted until the morning of the following day, on several neighborhoods in Khan Younis, including an UNRWA-managed shelter for displaced people in the Ma'an area of Khan Younis. The attacks took place simultaneously with a complete disruption of communication and internet services throughout Gaza.

Our teams reported that, under the cover of intensive bombardment, Israeli forces expanded their ground invasion in the eastern towns of Khan Younis City. According to preliminary estimates, the night-long bombing killed 45 Palestinians, including women and children, and injured more than 150 others. There have been reports of significant additional casualties in various areas of Gaza that have been subjected to ground attacks and airstrikes.

The Israeli ground invasion of Khan Younis came a day after Israel announced and issued so-called ‘evacuation orders’ for residential areas, including orders for over 250,000 people in Khan Younis to leave. Among these areas were numerous shelters in schools, as well as displaced people in houses.

The intense and relentless bombing has created an unprecedented state of panic among children and women. People were seen attempting to move to the western part of Khan Younis in search of refuge or safer locations. Furthermore, Israeli warplanes bombed a house west of Khan Younis, confirming our earlier assertion that there is no safe place in the entire Gaza Strip.

The expansion of the Israeli ground invasion has forced tens of thousands of Palestinians from nearby areas to locations included in the ‘evacuation orders’, to leave their homes due to indiscriminate artillery shelling and in anticipation of further advancement by Israeli tanks. This has led to hundreds of thousands being concentrated in a narrow space west of Khan Younis amidst unprecedented catastrophic conditions.

Moreover, Israeli warplanes continued to launch dozens of airstrikes and conduct carpet bombing on Jabaliya refugee camp and Beit Lahiya in northern Gaza, as well as Al-Sheja’eyya and Al-Toffah neighbourhoods in Gaza City.

According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, Israeli occupying forces encircled Kamal Adwan Hospital in northern Gaza, with tanks approaching the hospital gates and firing on anyone moving in the area. According to medical sources in the hospital, the surrounding area of Al-Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza was also subjected to Israeli airstrikes and gunfire, killing one displaced person in the hospital.

These developments have led to a catastrophic situation, with nearly hundreds of thousands of Gaza’s two million displaced people unable to find a place to seek refuge, and most shelters, including those managed by UNRWA lacking basic services such as food, water, sanitation, and bathing facilities. This situation raises the possibility of disease outbreak.

According to official UNRWA data, nearly one million displaced people out of 1.9 million were housed in 99 facilities in the Middle Area, Khan Younis, and Rafah districts as of 3 December 2023. There are 64 of these facilities in Khan Younis and Rafah.

According to the latest update from the Palestinian Ministry of Health as of 3:00 PM on Monday, 4 December 2023, Israeli attacks on Gaza have killed 15,899 Palestinians and injured 42,000 others since 7 October, with 70% of the victims being children and women.

Our organizations warn that these serious developments indicate Israel's continued plan to forcibly displace the residents of Gaza beyond its borders towards the south, creating a new Nakba. For the past 60 days, Israel has been terrorizing civilians by bombing homes and shelters with massive firepower, including destructive bombs weighing more than two tons each, as well as starvation and deprivation of health services.

With these grave developments, we call on civil society organizations and influential parties and groups to strengthen their efforts and exert all forms of political and legal pressure on their governments, especially in Europe and the United States, to change their stance and cease support for the genocidal campaign against the Palestinian People, and comply with the international humanitarian law.

We call on the international community to take serious and immediate action to stop Israel’s military aggression on Gaza, to prevent Israeli plans for a second Nakba for Palestinians, and to take effective measures to ensure accountability for Israel’s gross violations committed against the Palestinian people in occupied Palestinian territory, that amount to war crimes, crimes against humanity. Action must be taken to end Israel’s unfolding genocide in Gaza.

We reiterate our call to the international community to ensure the end of the Israeli occupation, and the dismantling of Israel’s settle-colonial and apartheid regime. We call for the repeal of all discriminatory and inhumane laws, policies, and practices against the entire Palestinian people, and to enable them to exercise their right to self-determination and right of return.