Member of emergency services crew in Gaza; background: house bombed on 10 July 2014. Photo: Ahmad Zakut, Reuters.

According to B'Tselem's initial figures, at least 505 Palestinians have been killed in the Gaza Strip and Israel in the time between early Tuesday, 8 July 2014, when Operation Protective Edge airstrikes on Gaza began until the 21 July at 9PM. The fatalities include: 140 minors (one minor participated in the hostilities), 56 women (under age 60), 28 senior citizens (aged 60 and over), Initial findings indicate that 102 of the people killed participated in the hostilities.

Two Israeli civilians were killed within Israel during this time, and 27 soldiers were killed in the Gaza Strip and Israel.

Search for victims amongst the rubble of a house bombed in Khan Younis. Photo: Ibrahim Abu Mustafa, Reuters, 21 July 2014

On 20 July Israeli forces bombed the four-story building that was home to the extended Jame' family: the matriarch, Fatmeh Abu Jame', her four sons, and their wives and children. B’Tselem’s initial findings indicate that the likely target of the attack was Ahmad Suliman Sahmoud, a member of Hamas’ military wing, who was visiting a member of the family. Everyone who was in the house at the time was hurt: 25 members of the Abu Jame' family were killed, as well as Hamas operative Sahmoud. The rest were injured. Information B’Tselem has at this stage indicates that no warning was issued and no warning missile was fired prior to the attack

House in Khan Younis damaged by an Israeli air strike, Finbarr O'Reilly, Reuters, 17 July 2014

Horrific developments in Gaza have reached intolerable heights: Israel is bombing houses with people in them, entire families have been buried under rubble, and streets lie in ruins. Hundreds have been killed so far, dozens in the last 24 hours only, many of them women and children. Hamas makes no pretense to follow the laws of war. Israel does, but holds Hamas responsible for its own. Unlawful actions by one party cannot justify unlawful actions by the other. The horrifying reality on the ground makes it impossible to further countenance Israel’s cynical use of legal terms such as “proportionality”, “distinction” and “due caution”.

Israeli airstrike on Gaza. Photo: Ahmad Zakut, Rueters, 21 July 2014

The organizations demanded that the Attorney General instruct the government to refrain from violating the laws of war and re-evaluate its aggressive policy and rules of engagement. The organizations seek to clarify whether the Attorney General critically evaluated the legal advice supplied to the Military Advocate General that underpins 'Operation Protective Edge', and calls on him to establish an external, independent and effective investigatory mechanism to examine the decision making of the political and operational establishment as required by international law and supported by the rulings of the High Court of Justice.

Photo from Palestine Red Crescent Society webiste

In light of last night's events: A procedure to evacuate those injured in the Gaza Strip is required immediately. as part of the lessons learned the "Cast Lead" operation, and in accordance with its legal obligations, the military pledged to prepare a coordination mechanism that would allow the evacuation of the wounded and give access to ambulances within a reasonable time. The incidents of last night clearly illustrate that this mechanism, even if it exists on paper, is not sufficiently effective. Accordingly, we urge immediate action to honor this legal obligation to institute a mechanism to regulate the evacuation of the wounded in the Gaza Strip. We call for protection to be provided to rescue teams and medical personnel in the Gaza Strip, to allow them to perform their duties without exposing them to danger.

Bombed and destroyed houses, Gaza, 19 July 2014. Photo: Suhaib Salem, Reuters

"The room was dark and full of smoke. We found my sister, Rawida. She was badly wounded from big pieces of shrapnel, but she was still alive. We got her out from under the rubble. One of the rods that support the roof was stuck in her hip. We pulled it out of her body. We carried her out to the street. Then we found my mother. She was lying in a corner of the room covered in blood and crying in pain. She was having difficulty breathing, but her injuries looked less dangerous. Another of my sisters, Hanan, was badly hurt in her abdomen and chest. She was still breathing. My brother, Marwan, was also hurt. The neighbors helped us carry them outside."

Palestinian civilians find shelter in an UNRWA school, Gaza, 13 July 2014. Photo: Muhammad Sabah, B'Tselem

"The fire from the first missile reached inside our homes, the explosion was so strong. It terrified us. Everyone panicked, especially the women, children and elderly people. Not all the families in the area left at once. We did it in stages. I saw my little grandchildren and the children of neighbors and relatives paralyzed with fear, and I could see in their eyes that they were shocked. They were trembling with fear. We had to evacuate our home and leave all our belongings behind. We only took a change of clothes, documents, money and jewelry. We left everything else behind: furniture, dishes, equipment. That really hurt. We left in a hurry after the last warning this morning, because we were very afraid of being bombed."

Saher Abu Namus. Photo: Abu Namus family.

"Just as I was about to leave, I heard two loud explosions very close by. I went outside. Everything was full of dust. When the air began to clear, I saw my wife running down the street. I ran over to her and saw her pick up a little boy and scream. When I got there, I saw she was holding Saher. He was dead."

"I keep thinking about my children and what might happen to them. I keep checking the different spaces around the house, looking for a safe room, but there isn’t one. All the rooms have large windows that look out over the street except the kitchen, which is in the center of the apartment. So we decided to sleep in the kitchen. My son Diaa insisted on sleeping in his bed, but when he heard the bombings he came running into the kitchen with his mattress and blanket to sleep with us. There was no room in the kitchen for another mattress so he slept between the other two kids. They slept right up against each other – that is, when we finally managed to sleep, because the bombings just don’t stop, day and night."

"Death has become an inseparable part of our lives, every minute, day and night. You never know when death will take you by surprise. You don't know when the next war will break out and how it will end. You don’t know how many people will pay with their lives and how many homes will be destroyed... I pretend to be strong and not afraid so my children don’t get scared, especially when they hear the missiles and the bombings. I tell them it’s happening far away and that nothing will reach us. They keep asking why people’s houses are being bombed, what those people did, and whether it hurts them. "

Unrecognized Bedouin village in the Negev, illustration. Photo by: Neukoln, Wikipedia

"There’s no bomb alert in our village, but we can hear the alerts from Omer. Even though the village was recognized by the state a few years ago, there is nothing here to protect us. There are no security rooms and no bomb shelter. More than 2,000 people live here. Our roofs are made of tin sheets, so when we hear the alert, we go outside and lie flat on the ground. It’s safer outside than inside. If a rocket hits the house, it’ll collapse completely and that’s very dangerous."

"When I go to work, I drive a friend of mine, because she's too scared to drive. I'm a bit braver but we're always on our toes: should we leave now or later. We decide to take our chances and leave and I drive as fast as I can, always thinking about where I can stop if it catches me on the way. We're really scared to go outside. The city is a ghost town and we only shop for essentials. The rest of the time, I'm at home."

Palestinian carries a damaged wheelchair as he walks amidst the debris of a hostel for people with disabilities, bombed on 12 July 2014. Photo: Muhammad Salef, Reuters

"We heard the Muazzin call out and prepared for prayer. It was about 4:30 A.M. Suddenly, there was a loud explosion. Everything shook and the walls collapsed. The hostel filled with dust and smoke. It took me a few minutes to come around and understand what had happened. The dust and smoke dispersed a bit, and I could see. The hostel was completely destroyed. There were broken things everywhere. I checked myself and discovered I was wounded in my head, abdomen and legs . I saw my friends 'Ula and Suha lying on the floor next to me. They weren't moving. They looked terrible. I knew right away that they’d been killed. The missile hit the roof and entered the hostel from the top floor."

A child from al-Batsh family during the funeral. Photo: Muhammad Salem, Reuters, 13 July 14

"At around 10:30 P.M., I heard two loud explosions. They were really close to my house and the whole area shook. There was no warning fire beforehand like there was in other cases. Glass in my house shattered and the whole area was covered in thick smoke... I made sure everyone in my family was okay and went outside...We continued looking for survivors and carrying bodies out all night... I can't express it in words. No one in the neighborhood ever imagined that family homes would be attacked for no reason, with no prior warning."

Bassam Khatab. Photo: Khaled al-'Azayzeh, B'Tselem, 13.7.14

Muhammad got there before me. He told me afterwards that he went into his apartment and found my son 'Abd a-Rahman in his bedroom. He was lying on the bedroom floor. His legs were chopped off at the knees and he had shrapnel wounds all over his body and face. When I got to Muhammad's apartment, I saw him standing in the doorway. He was holding a severely wounded child. I took the child from him without knowing it was my son. I starting carrying the child downstairs, and only then I looked at his face and realized it was 'Abd a-Rahman, my five-year-old. He was dead. I was stunned. I shouted: "My son is dead!" One of my brothers called an ambulance, which came a few minutes later. We took 'Abd a-Rahman to Shuhadaa al-Aqsa Hospital.

Dr. Basman al-'Ashi, Director of al-Wafa Hospital and two of the patients. Photo: Anne Pak,, 15 July 2014.

The military’s demand to evacuate the hospital is unlawful. A hospital is not a military target and the military may not target it even after it is evacuated. The information B’Tselem has indicates that the hospital was ordered to evacuate as part of the sweeping demand to evacuate the entire neighborhood, in blatant disregard for the fact that evacuating a rehabilitation institution is a complicated task which may put lives at risk. There is no other rehabilitative institute in the area where patients can be transferred. These patients require special conditions that cannot be recreated. Transferring hospital patients is complicated and dangerous at the best of times. Under the current conditions in Gaza, the danger is mortal.

Ety Levy

"during the operation, I stay at home with my four kids, day and night. When the siren goes off, we leave our apartment and gather in the staircase. We hear and see rockets being diverted [by Israel's "Iron Dome" defense system] or hitting targets very close to us. Every explosion makes the whole building shake. The children are afraid to sleep in their rooms and insist on staying in the living room with me all night. Even if they do manage to fall asleep, they take turns staying awake "on guard".

Faiza a-Luah. Photo: Muhammad Sabah, B'Tselem, 15 July 2014

I'm really worried about my husband. I talked to him a short while ago, and he told me things are worse. I asked him to leave the house, but he said it's very dangerous and that if he goes outside, he won't make it alive. I don't know what will happen to him. Our home was already bombed once, in the 2009 war. We left the house then too and sheltered in a school. When we got back, we found a pile of rubble. There was nothing left that was usable. We just finished rebuilding one story of our house a year ago. When we moved in, I couldn't believe I had a house with walls, windows, doors, a kitchen, a toilet and a shower. But the happiness didn't last long, because now we've been evacuated again. We had to escape and go back to sitting on school chairs. To me, these chairs symbolize being uprooted again. These chairs mean pain and suffering.

The home of 'Abd al-Hafez Hamad. Six members of this family were killed when the house was bombed on the night of 8 July 2014. Photo: Muhammad Sabah, B'Tselem, 9 July, 2014

According to B’Tselem’s initial inquiries, by yesterday evening (14 July 2014) at least 172 Palestinians had been killed in Israel’s airstrikes on the Gaza Strip. This number includes 34 minors (eight younger than 6 years old), 20 women (under 60) and 10 senior citizens. Our field researchers in Gaza have been working ceaselessly, night and day, to document events. Our field researchers in the West Bank have been lending a hand by collecting testimonies over the phone. Our office staff has been processing and verifying information, and trying to convey the incomprehensible scope of the infringement on human rights. The following seven photos were taken by our field workers in Gaza.

Searching for bodies in the sand the day after the airstrike. Photo: Fares Akram, 10 July 2014

"We watched the first half of the match together. We drank tea and coffee and there was a relaxed mood. We didn't hear any airplanes nearby. Suddenly, there was a loud explosion. By the time I realized what was happening, I found myself buried under a pile of sand and dirt. I choked on the sand and could hardly breathe. I manage to get my head out of the sand. The rest of my body was stuck and I started calling for help. It was dark, but I could see that most of the caf? had been destroyed. It had simply disappeared, replaced by a huge hole in the ground. The people who had been inside were buried under the sand."

Building hit by rocket, southern Israel. Photo: Ronen Zvulun, Reuters, 9 July 2014

Millions of Israeli citizens, many of whom are children, have been living under the threat of rocket fire for almost a week. For hundreds of thousands of Israelis living in the south of the country, this terrible situation is part of an ongoing routine. The unrelenting attacks have disrupted their lives, denied their right to live in security and hurt their ability to make a living. Every venture outside – to work, school, or a recreational activity – is attended by a sense of danger. Some residents have even decided to relocate for fear they or their loved ones would get hurt.

Woman mourns killing of al-Haj family, her relatives. Photo: Ibrahim Abu Mustafa, Reuters, 10 July 2014

We reached the house that had been bombed. "I know it well. There was hardly anything left. It was totally destroyed. Bits of bodies were scattered on the road. The house next door to them belonged to the Shakshak family. It was also destroyed, but wasn't directly hit. The family was covered with debris, but they managed to get out alive. We started looking for survivors in the al-Haj family home. It was a terrible sight. I didn't think we could rescue anyone from under the debris. All we got out was body parts."

A house bombed in Gaza. Photo: Muhammad Salem, reuters, 13 July 2014

According to B'Tselem's initial findings, from the start of Operation Protective Edge there were ten incidents in which Palestinians in the Gaza Strip were killed when the Israeli military bombed homes. 52 people were killed in these incidents, of them 19 minors and 12 women. Official spokespeople state that it is enough for a person to be involved in military activity to render his home legitimate military targets, without having to prove any connection between his activity and the house in which he and his family live. This interpretation is unfounded and illegal. Euphemisms such as "surgical strikes" or "operational infrastructure" cannot hide the facts: illegal attacks of homes, which constitute punitive home demolition from the air, come at a dreadful cost in human life.

Mourners at the Hamad family home. Photo: Muhammad Sabah, B'Tselem, 9 July 2014

"I heard a loud explosion. I grabbed Kinan and went out into the street with him. It was full of smoke and dust. I walked on bits of glass. I left Kinan with people in the street and went back into the yard to check on the rest of the family. I found bodies lying on the ground covered in blood, with their clothes torn. Everything was full of shrapnel and blood. Some neighbors came with flashlights. When they lit up the yard, I was shocked – I saw the bodies of my three sons, 'Abd al-Hafez, Mahdi and Ibrahim, my wife, my granddaughter Dina, and my daughter-in-law Suha. The two other little ones, Rakan and Nur, were lightly injured."

The Kaware’ family home in Khan Yunis, Photo: Khaled al-'Azayzeh, B'Tselem, 8 July 2014

Since the Israeli military launched Operation Protective Edge in the early hours of 8 July 2014, the IDF Spokesperson and media sources have reported deliberate attacks against the homes of senior activists in armed Palestinian groups. The IDF Spokesperson reported that 11 such homes were attacked. Even if uninvolved civilians are not injured, these houses are not legitimate military targets, and attacking them is a violation of international humanitarian law. The gravity of the violation is compounded when uninvolved civilians are injured. Until now, B’Tselem has documented one case in which civilians were in a house bombed after a prior warning missile was fired:

A house bombed in Gaza. Photo: Ibrahim Abu Mustafa, Reuters, 8 July 2014

Yesterday (8 July 2014), the Israeli military launched Operation Protective Edge in the Gaza Strip. According to the IDF Spokesperson, the military has attacked some 100 targets, including homes of senior Hamas activists. According to media reports, Palestinian armed groups in Gaza have fired some 50 rockets and mortar shells at south Israel until around lunchtime. B’Tselem has found that some 10 people, including minors, were killed in Gaza today. B'Tselem reiterates its demand that all parties to the hostilities prevent harm to civilians.

B'Tselem has championed human rights in the West Bank and Gaza Strip for over two decades, promoting a future where all Israelis and Palestinians will live in freedom and dignity.

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