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Israeli artillery attacks on Gaza may amount to war crimes

Geneva – The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor said
that the Israeli forces’ indiscriminate shelling operations
with their tanks, artillery, and warships towards the
eastern and western Gaza Strip violates the rules of
international humanitarian law and may constitute war

The Geneva-based Euro-Med Monitor confirmed
in a press release on Friday that the indiscriminate bombing
operations carried out during the 11-day Israeli military
attack breach the international humanitarian law standards,
especially regarding the principles of distinction,
proportionality, and military necessity.

Monitor stated that its field team documented the Israeli
artillery’s participation in indiscriminate bombing
operations since early days of the massive Israeli operation
in Gaza called “The Guardian of the Walls”. The operation
began on May 10, 2021 and continued until the announcement
of a ceasefire, which came into effect at2:00 am on Friday,
May 21, 2021.

Euro-Med Monitor pointed out that
these bombing patterns by land and sea, complemented with
thousands of intense airstrikes carried out by Israeli
warplanes, reduced hundreds of homes to rubble; changed the
features of many neighbourhoods and caused colossal damage
to the infrastructure.

According to the latest
statistics of the Ministry of Health in the Gaza Strip, the
Israeli military attack on the Strip during the 11 days
resulted in the deaths of 232 Palestinians, including 65
children, 39 women, and 17 older adults. It also injured
about 1900 others, 60 in critical conditions and inflicted
destruction and damage on about 10 thousand housing units,
hundreds of economic establishments, and the

According to Euro-Med Monitor’s
follow-up, the shelling started the day after the Israeli
military attack on the northern Gaza Strip. In the next two
days, it focused on the Bedouin village, which caused the
death of many civilians and the injury of others. As a
result, thousands were displaced.

According to
testimonies received by the Euro-Med Monitor, for over 4
hours on Thursday morning, May 20, 2021, Israeli artillery
fired two shells every minute on the eastern areas of the
Gaza Strip. Some of the shells fell several kilometres from
the separation fence and caused fires and damage to homes
and facilities. The bombings also repeated heavily at night
until the hours of dawn, causing large explosions that left
the population, especially children and women,

Euro-Med Monitor indicated that the
Israeli forces use multiple ammunition in artillery
bombardment, some of which are fired by tanks or artillery
stationed inside the separation fence and on sea boats.
Also, some of these shells have massive destructive
capabilities that penetrate reinforced concrete and explode
inside residential homes. Other smoke bombs produce a cloud
of white smoke that has a harmful smell and causes
congestion, itchy eyes and difficulty breathing.

Euro-Med Monitor confirmed that the various artillery
shells used by the Israeli forces aim to inflict harm and
psychological intimidation on civilians through the loud
explosions resulting from them. These attacks did not stop
and mostly carried on throughout the military attack.

Euro-Med Monitor indicated that the indiscriminate
bombing operations involved and resulted in several grave
violations, most notably as follows:

Killings and

Euro-Med Monitor documented that the
artillery strikes caused many deaths and injuries among
Palestinian civilians. For example, on Thursday, May 13,
2021, artillery shells killed farmer Suhaib Abdul Rahim Awad
Ghanem, 25, and injured farmer Yahya Mansour Ghaben, 24,
while working in agricultural lands in northern Gaza..

Euro-Med Monitor also documented the Israeli artillery
bombardment of several areas in the northern Gaza Strip on
the same day. The organized attack killed six Palestinians,
including a baby, a minor girl and three women. It also
wounded 25 others, including children and women. All of them
are residents of the village of Umm al-Nasr. The dead were:
Nisreen Nasser Abu Qleiq, 25; Naama Saleh Salama Ayyash, 47;
Hashem Muhammad Ayed al-Zughaib, 20; Sabreen Nasser Muhammad
Abu Daiya, 27; infant Muhammad Salama Muhammad Abu Daiya,
ten months old; and Fawzia Nasser Muhammad Abu Faris,

Euro-Med Monitor documented other incidents
where artillery shells fell on Palestinian homes, penetrated
concrete ceilings, and caused multiple injuries, fires, and
damages. This was repeated throughout the eastern regions of
the Gaza Strip.

Psychological abuse

According to Euro-Med Monitor follow-up, the damage
caused by the heavy use of artillery shells was not limited
to direct harm but also caused severe psychological effect,
especially for women and children. The Euro-Med Monitor team
received testimonies about parents’ suffering in dealing
with their children during the intense and continuous
bombings. This causes a state of great panic, tension,
screaming, sleep deprivation, insomnia, and other adverse

Destruction of civilian objects and

As a result of the Israeli artillery
shelling, several shells fell on factories and facilities,
including nine factories and companies operating in the
industrial zone east of Gaza City, which led to extensive
damage and destruction. This level of targeting constitutes
a flagrant violation of the area’s protection according to
the related international agreements.

The Israeli
artillery shelling on the evening of Thursday, May 20,
caused the total or partial destruction of 13 factories in
the industrial zone, including the Siskik factory, CocaCola
factory, Dalloul factory, and other factories for wood and
cleaning materials. Plastic and wood products increased the
flames caused by the shelling, which complicated efforts to
extinguish them, and it lasted for hours to end.

Euro-Med Monitor also documented the targeting of the
Abu Iskandar factory, which manufactures plastics, the
artillery shells caused fires inside it to catch tons of
products and plastic raw materials at dawn on Tuesday, May

On Monday, May 17, Israeli artillery targeted
the Fomco sponge factory, east of Jabalia, which led to a
massive fire in the factory and destroyed extensive

On the evening of Thursday, May 20,
artillery shelling set fire to several factories in the
industrial zone of eastern Gaza.


Thousands were forced to flee their
homes in the eastern Gaza Strip due to the violent and
continuous artillery shelling and its harmful odours. The
displacement began on May 13, 2021, with about 10 thousand
citizens expulsion as the fierce bombing began of the
Bedouin village in the north of the Strip. The pace of
displacement escalated with the intensification of the
bombing in all the eastern regions of the Strip. The
displacement reached its climax on May 15, which coincided
with the 73rd anniversary of the Palestinian catastrophe.
Later, the number of forcibly displaced people increased to
more than 80 thousand. Nearly 50 thousand were in shelters
(UNRWA schools) where they live in challenging conditions
and without adequate support.

Given the data,
Euro-Med Monitor emphasized that the Israeli forces’ use of
highly destructive and inaccurate missiles in densely
populated and indiscriminate areas violates the principle of
distinction that obliges the fighting troops to distinguish
between civilians and combatants, which extends to include
civilian objects. The Israeli authorities are obliged to
avoid targeting civilians, factories and homes without any
military necessity.

Euro-Med Monitor stressed that
the Israeli forces’ indiscriminate use of artillery shells
against the densely populated Palestinian population amount
to war crimes. Euro-Med calls for the International Criminal
Court to include these violations in its investigation into
war crimes committed in the occupied Palestinian

Euro-Med Monitor called on the
international community to take urgent action to ensure
accountability for Israel, justice for the Palestinian
victims, and provide permanent mechanisms to protect
Palestinian civilians from the devastating Israeli war

Euro-Med Monitor called for an immediate
lifting of the Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip and swift
work to rebuild homes, facilities and infrastructure
destroyed by the Israeli

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