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Days 4-5: Israel destroys entire residential neighborhoods and intensifies mass killings of Palestinians in Gaza
11، Oct 2023

On the fifth consecutive day, Israel has persisted in its military offensive on the Gaza Strip, employing immense destructive firepower. The Israeli military have launched airstrikes which have brought about the devastation of complete residential neighborhoods, streets and infrastructure and mass killings of the inhabitants of those neighborhoods. Civilians and civilian infrastructure have been deliberately targeted.

As a result of the escalating intensity of airstrikes, moving, as they do, from one location to another, there is no safe refuge in Gaza. The Israeli bombardment has caused substantial damage to shelters; even those sites designated by international law for special protection to ensure the safety of civilians have been targeted. The relentless wave of hundreds of airstrikes has resulted in significant killings and injuries among the civilian population, with many still trapped beneath the rubble, beyond the reach of search and rescue teams.

According to the Ministry of Health, as at 14:00 p.m. on 11 October 2023, some 1,100 Palestinians, including 326 children, have been killed in Israel’s military attacks. The number of injuries has reached 5,339, with 60% of those being children and women. These numbers will inevitably rise, as dozens of people are still trapped under the rubble. Furthermore, Israeli airstrikes have led to the destruction of thousands of homes and private and public buildings.

Evidence from the ground, including photos and video, show the emission of white smoke coinciding with Israeli shells being directed at specific neighborhoods in the Gaza Strip, suggesting that white phosphorus may have been used. More investigation will determine. The potential use of white phosphorus and other internationally banned ammunition and weaponry by the Israeli military within densely populated civilian areas, as well as other aspects of the current offensive, will require the scrutiny of an international inquiry.

The following highlights the most severe Israeli attacks carried out in Gaza between midday on 10 October and midday on 11 October 2023, as monitored and documented jointly by Al-Mezan, Al-Haq, and the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights: 

  • In the North Gaza District, Israeli military forces carried out hundreds of airstrikes on Tuesday 10th October, destroying three houses, with their residents still inside, in Jabaliya, and killing 26 Palestinians, including 13 children and seven women, with eight people still unaccounted for.
  • From yesterday evening (10 October) until dawn today (11 October), Israeli warplanes launched dozens of intensive and destructive airstrikes on the Al-Karama neighborhood, west of Jabaliya, targeting roads and numerous houses, without prior warning. These attacks killed a significant number of Palestinians such that our fieldworkers were unable to provide an accurate number as many people remain under the rubble, and are yet to be documented. Further, an ambulance was targeted during the evacuation of the wounded near Al-Karama towers, killing a number of Palestinians and injuring paramedics.
  • At dawn today (11 October), the areas of Al-Qarm, Ezbet Abdrabbo, and Al-Sikka, east of Jabaliya and its refugee camp, were targeted by warplanes and artillery. There were dozens of artillery attacks and airstrikes. The attacks resulted in the destruction of entire neighborhoods, and hindered the access of ambulance and rescue teams to the area. In the morning, rescue teams managed to recover dozens of bodies, with 24 identified so far. A considerable number of bodies remain unidentified, and others are still under the rubble. Thousands of survivors have fled from the area.
  • In Gaza City, Israeli warplanes carried out dozens of airstrikes on residential neighborhoods coupled with intense shelling from artillery and naval vessels. The attacks resulted in the destruction of numerous houses and residential buildings belonging to the Al-Tatar, Eslim, Marouf, Abu Shammala, Ashour, and Naffar families. Israeli warplanes also targeted a residential neighborhood in Al-Sahaba Street, destroying several houses belonging to the Hijazi, Al-Safadi, Atallah, and Al-Sik families. Furthermore, Israeli warplanes resumed the targeting of the Islamic University compound and bombed the Al-Fakhoura Scholarship Program building. The attacks killed 57 Palestinians, including 20 children and 11 women, with ongoing search and rescue efforts for dozens of bodies under the rubble.
  • In the Middle Area District, Israeli forces conducted a series of airstrikes on neighborhoods, residential apartments and agricultural lands, coupled with intense shelling from heavy weapons and naval vessels. Israeli warplanes targeted residential areas, most notably in the three densely populated refugee camps of Al-Bureij, Al-Nusairat,  and Deir al-Balah.  Prominent institutions such as the Islamic National Bank were attacked. The intense airstrikes resulted in significant damage to infrastructure and electricity networks, and caused considerable destruction to multi-story houses and residential apartments belonging to the Al-Hasanat, Al-Naqib, Musallam, Jouda, Al-Araj, Al-Najjar, Ramadan, and Ismail families. These attacks killed 49 Palestinians, including 15 children and 12 women; dozens were injured. Civil defense and medical teams are still searching for missing people under the rubble. Further, Israeli naval shelling destroyed 13 Palestinian fishing boats, and damaged ten others along the coast of Deir al-Balah. Some houses remain inaccessible to rescue teams due to limited resources.
  • In Khan Younis, Israeli forces targeted several houses and apartments belonging to the Al-Astal, Awad, Ismail, Aram, Al-Agha, Abu Shab, and Al-Qidra families. The attacks killed 43 Palestinians, including 16 children and 12 women. Among those killed were two members of Hamas political bureau, Zakaria Abu Muammar and Jawad Abu Shammala. Israeli forces continued to target entire residential neighborhoods with aerial and artillery bombardment in the eastern areas of Khan Younis, including Khuza'a, Abasan al-Kabira, Abasan al-Jadida, Al-Qarara, and Al-Fukhari. Most of the residents of those areas had left their homes earlier having received warnings and orders from the Israeli forces to evacuate. The attacks led to massive destruction in several residential neighborhoods, including a significant number of homes, shops and infrastructure. Civil defense teams continue to search for missing people under the rubble.
  • In Rafah, Israeli warplanes carried out numerous airstrikes targeting several homes and apartments, as well as the Islamic National Bank and the Postal Bank. The attacks killed 16 Palestinians, including four children, a woman and a journalist. Civil defense teams continue to search for missing people under the rubble. Furthermore, Israeli forces bombed the Rafah border crossing gate between Gaza and Egypt for the third time, with the apparent aim of blocking entry and exit from Gaza, and preventing the entry of Egyptian relief trucks carrying fuel and goods into the Gaza Strip.
  • According to United Nations estimates, more than 200,000 people have been internally displaced, with over 137,000 seeking shelter in more than 80 UNRWA schools across the Gaza Strip.
  • Human rights organizations continue to receive complaints from many people in shelters regarding the lack of services, including bedding and food. An urgent response from the UN is required to ensure the provision of basic needs for the survival of the people.
  • Furthermore, the UNRWA headquarters in Gaza was severely damaged due to airstrikes in the surrounding area.  The international UN staff in Gaza moved to another building within the same compound.
  • UNRWA has reported direct and collateral damage to at least 18 of its facilities, including schools sheltering displaced civilians. Additionally, nine UNRWA staff members and 30 students have been killed since the beginning of the Israeli offensive.
  • Palestinian human rights organizations warn of a looming humanitarian catastrophe that will impact the lives of around 2.3 million citizens in the Gaza Strip. The complete closure imposed by Israel will lead to a total power outage within hours, due to the depletion of fuel supplies and the shutdown of Gaza’s sole power plant. Shockingly, Israel, since the beginning of the offensive, has terminated the supply of (120) megawatts of electricity to Gaza.
  • According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, Israeli forces have targeted nine healthcare facilities, including seven governmental hospitals, destroyed 15 ambulances, and killed six medical personnel while injuring 16 others.

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, Al-Haq, and Al Mezan Center for Human Rights express their absolute condemnation of the ongoing Israeli aggression and the atrocities inflicted upon civilians, alongside the widespread and systematic destruction of civilian property - actions constituting war crimes and crimes against humanity. We warn that the intensified assaults by the Israeli military in densely populated areas, coupled with the total closure and the disruption of essential services, including power, water, food, and medical supplies, represent a threat to the lives of the 2.3 million Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip.

Therefore, we reiterate our calls on the international community, especially the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention, for urgent and effective intervention, coupled with tangible measures to bring about a cessation of the killing and the employment of starvation as a weapon of war, thereby averting a looming humanitarian crisis. The international community must also exert pressure on Israel to respect its obligations under international humanitarian law, provide international protection for civilians, and guarantee the unimpeded distribution of medical, relief, and fuel supplies, mitigating the precipitous deterioration of the humanitarian situation on the ground. Furthermore, we call on the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, in accordance with the Rome Statute, to investigate Israeli crimes, especially indiscriminately and disproportionately targeting civilian homes and killing entire families, and to prosecute and hold accountable every individual who has carried out or ordered the commission of these crimes.