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High Rise Buildings Collapse Following Israeli Airstrikes

Thursday, 28 August 2014 22:59 - [18-24 August] - Ref.: 101/2014
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n-GAZA-large570The 51-day Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip led to the killing of more than 2150 Palestinians. According to Al-Haq initial documentation, 1,666 of those who were killed are civilians, including 521 children. Over 10,900 Palestinians have been injured, most of whom are civilians, including 3,312 children. During the Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip, infrastructure therein was severely damaged and 2,853 homes were levelled, of which 1,082 houses were directly targeted. At least 8,067 houses were partially damaged while by Israeli shelling, excluding hundreds of houses in the eastern areas of the Strip.

Between 23 and 26 August 2014, Israeli missiles targeted and destroyed four high rise buildings and one shopping centre. On 26 August at approximately 4:15 A.M., six consecutive air missiles struck and destroyed al-Basha 13-storey building which includes residential apartments and offices, in the city centre of Gaza. The airstrikes caused severe damages to surrounding structures. On the same day at approximately 6:30 P.M., three Israeli missiles struck and destroyed a five-storey residential building in al-Sheikh Zayed neighbourhood in Beit Lahia, North Gaza governorate. The building consists of 10 residential apartments, wherein 14 families of approximately 80 people resided.

On 25 August at approximately 10:30 P.M., seven consecutive Israeli air missiles struck the Italian Compound building on al-Nasr Street in Gaza governorate. Within seconds, the 13-storey building which comprises 52 residential apartments, a shopping mall and offices collapsed. Due to the severity of the strikes, surrounding structures were also seriously damaged.

On 23 August at approximately 7:20 P.M., two airstrikes hit and levelled the 13-floored al-Thafer Building in Tal al-Hawa in Gaza. The building includes 46 residential apartments that were inhabited by around 240 people. As a result of the strike, 18 people were injured. Half an hour prior to the airstrike, Israeli forces had called by phone some of the building residents informing them to evacuate. Residents of four neighbouring buildings also evacuated. On the same day in the Rafah city centre, at approximately 11:00 P.M., Israel launched seven air missiles, destroying a shopping centre. The centre includes offices, clinics, a wedding hall, a restaurant, 14 apartments and around 47 stores. At the same time, two more Israeli missiles struck nearby buildings damaging several houses and stores, as well as two buildings sheltering civilians in the vicinity. As a result, seven people were injured, including two children.

The extensive destruction of property in a manner that is not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly constitutes a grave breach of the Geneva Conventions and is subject to universal jurisdiction as a war crime. While Israel is not a party to the Additional Protocol I of 1977 the rule is considered declaratory of customary international law, and is featured in Israel’s military manual. Additionally, the intentional directing of attacks against civilian objects, which does not constitute military objectives is a war crime under Article 8(2)(b)(ii) of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.