The Israeli Information Center For Human Rights In The Occupied Territories (B’Tselem) issued a report on Monday expressing grave concern over the large number of civilian casualties who were killed by the Israeli army in recent days.B’Tselem reported that since February 27 until afternoon of March 3, 106 Palestinians were killed in the Gaza Strip, and that at least fifty-four of them, including 25 minors, did not take part in the fighting.
The Center added that at least 46 of the wounded residents were children.
The statement of the Center came in response to an initiative by the Israeli Defense Minister, who said that the army would probe “the legality of shelling areas that are used by Palestinian fighters in firing homemade shells into adjacent Israeli areas”.
B’Tselem stated that even if the army is targeting “legitimate military targets” such attacks are prohibited if they are likely to cause harm to the civilians in those areas, and added that targeting neighborhoods from which homemade shells were fired is considered indiscriminate and a grave breech to the international law.
B’Tselem added that it could not conduct a thorough investigation of the event as the fighting only stopped on Monday morning, but stated that an initial probe of some incidents in which civilians were killed raises deep concern that the army is using excessive and disproportionate force while failing to distinguish between civilians and combatants.
The Center said that in one of the cases, the army killed four children, identified as ‘Ali Dardona, 8, Muhammad Hamudah, 9, Dardona Dardona, 12, and ‘Omer Dardona, and wounded two others while they played soccer in the street, east of the Jabalia refugee camp on 28 February.
An investigation conducted by the center revealed that Qassam shells might have been fired from a nearby area, about 100 meters away, but yet no armed fighters were killed or injured in the army shelling.
B’Tselem also stated that the army killed Iyad and Jacqueline Mohammad Abu Shbak, 16 and 17, while they were in their home and watching the fighting through the window of their house east of Jabalia. The slain brother and his sister where shot in the head and chest.
B’Tselem also probed the death of Mohammad Al Bora’ey, 6 months, in Al Rimal neighborhood in Gaza City on February 27. Several residents were injured in the incident as the army shelled the nearby Ministry of Interior.
The building were the ministry is located is a civilian building with no military presence, this it is not a military target.
B’Tselem called on both sides of the conflict to abide by the law and to protect the civilians who are not part of the fighting.