"A new independent medical fact-finding mission in Gaza has detailed Israel’s deliberate killing of Palestinian civilians in its summer 2014 attack, codenamed Operation “Protective Edge.” Acts documented in the investigation include the use of human shields, close-range murder of civilians, targeting of medics, and more.
The report, based on fieldwork and research conducted by Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-Israel), in conjunction with several other human rights and medical organizations, sits at a bulky 237 pages. PHR-Israel, in its words, “recruited eight independent international medical experts, unaffiliated with Israeli or Palestinian parties involved in the conflict,” leading specialists in numerous medical, health, and human rights fields. Jennifer Leaning, the Director of the Center for Health and Human Rights Department of Global Health and Population in Harvard University’s School of Public Health, was among those chosen to oversee the report.
The investigation was also supported by a wide array of prominent international organizations, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Science and Human Rights Program, the British Shalom-Salaam Trust, Christian Aid, the Open Society Foundation, and many more.
In its executive summary, the fact-finding mission estimates that, in Israel’s 50-day attack on Gaza,
•over 2,100 Palestinians were killed;
•at least 70% of those killed were civilians;
•over 500 children were killed;
•more than 11,000 were wounded; and
•at least 100,000 were made homeless.
The Electronic Intifada published a summary of the investigation’s findings, drawing particular attention to an incident in the Gazan village of Khuzaa, in which the Israeli military shot into a crowd of civilians who were fleeing Israel’s siege and carrying white flags while shouting “peaceful, peaceful.”
This attack, nonetheless, pales in comparison to those disclosed in the report. PHR-Israel reported Israel did the following in its Operation Protective Edge:
•used civilians as human shields;
•shot civilians dead at close range;
•left mortally wounded children on the ground to die, even after soldiers made eye contact with them;
•conducted multiple consecutive strikes on a single location (“double taps”), killing injured survivors and those attempting to rescue them;
•bombed medical clinics that were acting as shelters for civilians and the wounded;
•“deliberately” attacked hospitals;
prevented emergency medical evacuation, even by international organizations such as Red Cross;
•killed and injured “many” medical teams that were evacuating the injured;
•refused to allow civilians to exit areas being attacked;
•targeted civilian escape routes;
•attacked civilians attempting to flee areas under fire;
•physically beat civilians;
•denied civilians food and water;
The report additionally documented Israel’s use of unconventional and experimental weapons, resulting in injuries local doctors characterized as “strange or inexplicable.” Among those used were
•flechette munitions (which doctors reported surgically removing from the faces of children);
•“explosive barrel” bombs, referred to as “Tzefa Shirion” weapons, that were made to be used to clear mines, but were dropped on civilians;
•what are suspected to be DIME weapons, leading to “unusual burns” and “unusual amputations,” with “charred” black skin that did not smell like burning flesh and black “tattooing” around cauterization-like stumps of amputees;
•weapons that left “‘computer chips’ with Sony markings embedded as shrapnel in people’s bodies”;
•and “a gas of unknown type,” a white-colored substance with a “sewage-like smell” that burned skin and caused respiratory problems and could be seen and smelled from 500 meters away.
The medical fact-finding mission notes that the “overwhelming majority of injuries causing death or requiring hospitalisation … were the result of explosion or crush injuries, often multiple complex injuries.” Roughly half of interviewed Gazans were attacked in their homes. Entire families were killed in the attack.”