Israeli Defense Minister, Shaul Mofaz, stated on Tuesday that there will be no quiet in Gaza unless there is quiet in Israel.
The statements of Mofaz came as he was touring the Gaza border sector on Tuesday, less than a day after the Israeli soldiers shelled Gaza killing Hadeel Mohammad Ghabin, a 10-year old Palestinian child and injuring at least thirteen members of her family, including toddlers, children and teenagers.
Mofaz claimed that the Israeli forces were forced to “sharpen” their response to the idleness of the Hamas-led Palestinian government against the firing of homemade shells at Israeli targets.
During the day, soldiers fired more tank and artillery shells at areas close to the northern borders of the Gaza Strip.
Army source claimed that resistance fighters fired more homemade shells at Israel targets.
Israeli Deputy Defense Minister, Ze’ev Boim, claimed on Tuesday that the intensified military strike against launchers of homemade shells would continue.
He said he was “sorry” for the civilian casualties in the Palestinian side but added that “the army have to defend Israeli citizens”.
The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories (B’Tselem) held Israel responsible for the death of the Palestinian child and the large number of casualties.
B’Tselem reported that one shell fired by the army directly hit a Palestinian house in Beit Lahia killing a Palestinian child and injuring her family members.
B’Tselem statement: “Israel should be held responsible for its actions”
Yesterday the Israeli military fired a shell that hit the house of the Ghabin family in the town of Beit Lahia in the northern part of the Gaza Strip.
Hadeel, a seven-year old girl, was killed, and twelve people were injured, including Hadeels’ pregnant mother Safiyya Ghabin, who was seriously injured.
The shelling occurred as part of Israel’s policy during the past few months to shell "launching sites" from which Qassam homemade shells are fired at Israeli communities. Often these sites are located in residential neighborhoods that are put at risk by Israeli shelling.
According to media reports, the Israeli military has even decided to reduce the "safety zone" that is intended to prevent or limit the danger to residential areas. This zone will reportedly be reduced from 300 to 100 meters. Artillery shells are not accurate weapons, and reducing the safety zone will endanger many more civilians. A senior military officer said of this decision and the killing of Hadeel Ghabin, "There is no guarantee that additional civilians will not be hurt in future attacks."
International humanitarian law prohibits attacks from within or near densely populated areas, and prohibits using civilians as "human shields." These prohibitions are intended to prevent harm to civilians as a result of counterattacks. Palestinian organizations that attack Israel from within or near such residential areas are violating these prohibitions and demonstrating indifference to the wellbeing of civilians.
B’Tselem also added that although the Palestinian Authority has the obligation to bar resistance fighters from firing homemade shells at Israeli areas, Israeli should not violate the international humanitarian law by shelling civilian areas.
The Palestinian Authority has the obligation to prevent all attacks against Israeli civilian targets, including attacks from within Palestinian residential areas. In failing to take measures against these attacks, the Palestinian Authority is neglecting its responsibility to protect civilians who are not taking part in the conflict.
“The harm to the Ghabin house, the death of Hadeel and the injury to the rest of the household are the direct result of the reduction of the "safety zone" and Israel’s policy to fire into residential areas. Legal responsibility therefore rests with Israel, whose policies are knowingly endangering civilian lives”, B’Tselem report added.