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Massacre in Gaza: IOF Invasion of Sheja'ya Leaves Dozens Killed in Streets; mostly Children and Women<br>International Silence is Complacency and must End Now

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20 July 2014 |Reference 60/2014

1PM (+3 GMT) The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) stepped up the attacks on the Gaza Strip last night.
The ground invasion was expanded in the three neighborhoods in the east of Gaza city; especially in the Sheja'ya, Sha'af and Tuffah neighborhoods.
IOF aerial and artillery attacks on houses also continued in various places across the Gaza Strip.
Tens of thousands of people fled the areas under attack.
Al Mezan was unable to enter the Sheja'ya neighborhood by 1PM, but initial field reports verified by our field workers and based on first-hand accounts of witnesses and visits to hospitals provided sufficient evidence about the situation.
Thousands of people are still trapped in these neighborhoods and reports of artillery attacks on their houses continue to come.
Ambulances were attacked by the IOF when they tried to reach victims.
At least one medic was killed.
Despite the efforts by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to coordinate ambulance access, dozens of people were still under the rubble or on streets while IOF stalled allowing ambulances to reach them until ICRC secured a humanitarian truce for two hours, ending at 3:30PM.
Most disturbing have been the reports of direct attacks from the attacking troops on houses and on civilians who were fleeing their houses.
Media reports provided footage of civilians' dead bodies scattered on streets; suggesting that they were walking out of the Sheja'ya neighborhood.
At least 60 people have been confirmed dead as they reached hospitals and about 200 were injured.
It is expected that this number will increase sharply once rescue teams reach the neighborhood.
At least 62,000 people have sought refuge in UNRWA shelters; however, tens of thousands have taken shelter in government schools and in houses of relatives and friends.
The situation for the population at large is exacerbated by the very long blackouts, which reaches 20 hours per day at best.
Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights has continued to operate at a minimum capacity, focusing on monitoring violations of human rights and international humanitarian law.
As of 1PM today, Sunday 20 July 2014, Al Mezan was able to verify that at least 391 people have been killed.
Of whom 86 were children and 46 women.
Al Mezan asserts that these numbers are expected to rise in the coming hours as more dead bodies are reached.
At least, another 2,481 people were injured with dozens unable to reach hospitals or evacuate areas under attack in fear of IOF indiscriminate fire; especially in the Sheja'ya neighborhood.
Al Mezan expresses outrage by the IOF massacre in Sheja'ya neighborhood in Gaza City last night and today.
Our monitoring indicates that serious violations of IHL were committed by the IOF; including directed fire at civilians without making any effort to abide by the principle of distinction, employing disproportionate force, directing fire at houses and other civilian structures, indiscriminately firing at fleeing civilians, and attacking and/or restricting the movement of ambulances.
Al Mezan expresses grave concern by the extensive use of artillery fire on dozens of populated areas across the Gaza Strip, which has devastated civilians in their houses or as they tried to evacuate them.
The IOF's acts represent grave breaches of IHL, amounting to war crimes.
They are expected to continue in the coming days.
Al Mezan also expresses outrage by the inaction of the international community despite the objective reporting from human rights organizations and international media about the manner in which the IOF has been conducting hostilities.
So far, most states have focused on Israel's contested right to self-defence while overlooking the absolute prohibitions on targeting civilians and launching disproportionate attacks, an attitude that has been echoed in Israel as a green light to go forward with such serious violations, which will certainly allow the grave situation to develop graver.
Should the situation continue to develop this way, international community's complacency will lead to greater numbers of civilian victims.
Al Mezan warns about the continuous prevalence of the culture of impunity; both at the international level where Israel is shielded from criticism of punishment for violations of IHL and the domestic level where Israel's justice system does not accommodate any form of effective accountability.
This culture is the main motive behind the continuous commitment of war crimes and must be abolished.
Al Mezan therefore calls on the international community to: Condemn strongly the grave breaches of IHL in the context of Operation Protective Edge; Take immediate, effective action to provide the due protection of civilians in the Gaza Strip from military attacks and prosecution; Carry out credible investigations into the conduct of hostilities and ensure accountability for those who prove to have committed violations and redress for the victims of these violations; and Use multilateral and bilateral relations with Israel to insist on the immediate need to respect IHL.
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