The Missing of Gaza ~ Civilians taken prisoner by IOF during Operation Protective Edge.

Still no news of the civilians taken as prisoners by the IOF during their occupation of Khuzaa and other border regions during the 51 day assault on Gaza.

Khuzaa in the South East of Gaza suffered one of the most brutal and viciously inhumane attacks on a defenceless civilian population.

Over 300 prisoners were reported to have been taken by the IOF during their penetration into Gaza territory throughout the 51 day offensive that began on the 8th of July 2014.  Of these 300, many have been returned to Gaza after harrowing and brutal treatment at the hands of the IOF.  26 remain imprisoned in Ashkelon without charge and 3 are to date completely unaccounted for.   The names of these prisoners have never officially been released by Israel,  this alone contravenes the international rules of war.  Some, according to sources in Gaza, have no surviving family members to identify them or to push for their release rendering it even harder to trace their whereabouts or to ascertain their state of health.

Israel has consistently omitted to disclose the identities or numbers of  prisoners taken from Gaza throughout Operation Protective Edge.  In line with their modus operandi, the prisoners have been refused access to a lawyer and they have not officially been recognised by Israel as combatants in the war which would mean that the Geneva Convention regarding prisoners of war should be applied!

These prisoners must be identified and released in the absence of any charges being levied against them.  The torture of prisoners during interrogation is also common practice in Israel and has been comprehensively documented by many NGOs and Human Rights Organisations.  This has been testified to by the witness statements of prisoners taken in Gaza who were subsequently released.

The following account is taken from MEE and written by Mohammed Omer:~

“However, some of those arrested were released after a few days. The terrifying account that 23 year-old Baker told summarizes the story of a man who was forced to strip naked and was beaten up by soldiers.

“The soldiers made two lines, one tank ahead and one behind us, and burning sand beneath our feet,”

Baker said that the IOF interrogated them about tunnels and rockets, of which he knew nothing. For a few days, the soldiers kept him handcuffed, blind-folded and wouldn’t allow him to sleep. He said to them that he is only a farmer and only sees rockets flying in the sky.

Baker said there were more young people, arrested and left behind when he was released with his brother and a few others.

“It all depends on the moods of the soldiers interrogating us,” he added as he gazed at the ruins of his demolished home.

Baker is not familiar with what Hamdan saw, when 15 young men were rounded up from their homes, held inside a bathroom and handcuffed.

“They were executed, shot in the head at point-blank. We found their bodies with arms handcuffed beyond them in a kneeling position on the floor.”

Hamdan said that the Nazis’ led the way in human atrocities, but leading up to 2014, Israel is committing the same atrocities.

The 15 execution victims are known by people in Khuza’a, and their family now knows of their fate. But many more still do not know about their own loved ones.

Hamdan noted that scores of people are missing – in a war-zone area, usually an army announces the names of captured prisoners, but not Israel. They have not made any such announcement during the 4-week war, where so many families remain unsure of the whereabouts of their children and relatives.

“I have lived through 1967, 1982, the Iraq War, 2008, 2012 and now 2014. But this is the most aggressive one – Israel acts as if it’s fighting a powerful equally-sized entity, but we only have the resistance which were not hit, so they arrested, injured and killed our children, all us, the civilians.”

On July 25th 2014 the following report was issued by the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights  trying to follow the horrific events in Khuzaa, including the taking of civilian prisoners.  The chaos and bloodshed that ensued during the IOF occupation of this region is only just beginning to be fully revealed as witness statements trickle out from a shocked and grieving population of this devastated border area.

At approximately 12:30, Israel forces that had moved into Khuza’a village, east of Khan Yunis, fired bullets and artillery shells at hundreds of Palestinian civilians who attempted to leave the village as there were reports about a one-hour coordination to evacuate casualties.  Israeli forces fired also at ambulances and prevented them from entering the village.

At approximately 17:00, 12 ambulances attempted to enter Khuza’a village, but Israeli forces prevented and fired at them.

At approximately 18:30, an Israeli warplane launched a missile at a house belonging to Dr. Kamal Abu Rujaila, which he uses as clinic, in Khuza’a village, as a number of wounded Palestinians went to the house seeking medical aid.  A number of casualties were reported as a result of the attack.  Apparently, one Palestinian was killed.  Medical crews were not able to reach the house. A volunteer paramedic, who was wounded throughout the body while he was attempting to evacuate wounded Palestinians, has been trapped in the area since Wednesday morning, 23 July 2014, as medical crews have not been able to reach him.  According to reports from Khuza’a village, Israeli forces raided a number of houses and turned them into military sites.  They also arrested scores of Palestinians.  At approximately 23:00, an ICRC crew and 10 ambulances of Palestine Red Crescent Society went to Kuza’a village, but they were not able to evacuate victims because the situation was extremely dangerous.

“At approximately 12:30, Israel forces that had moved into Khuza’a village, east of Khan Yunis, fired bullets and artillery shells at hundreds of Palestinian civilians who attempted to leave the village as there were reports about a one-hour coordination to evacuate casualties.  Israeli forces fired also at ambulances and prevented them from entering the village.

At approximately 17:00, 12 ambulances attempted to enter Khuza’a village, but Israeli forces prevented and fired at them.

At approximately 18:30, an Israeli warplane launched a missile at a house belonging to Dr. Kamal Abu Rujaila, which he uses as clinic, in Khuza’a village, as a number of wounded Palestinians went to the house seeking medical aid.  A number of casualties were reported as a result of the attack.  Apparently, one Palestinian was killed.  Medical crews were not able to reach the house. A volunteer paramedic, who was wounded throughout the body while he was attempting to evacuate wounded Palestinians, has been trapped in the area since Wednesday morning, 23 July 2014, as medical crews have not been able to reach him.  According to reports from Khuza’a village, Israeli forces raided a number of houses and turned them into military sites.  They also arrested scores of Palestinians.  At approximately 23:00, an ICRC crew and 10 ambulances of Palestine Red Crescent Society went to Kuza’a village, but they were not able to evacuate victims because the situation was extremely dangerous.

At approximately 21:00, an Israeli warplane launched a missile at a number of Palestinian civilians in Khuza’a village, east of Khan Yunis, killing 2 of them: Mohammed Barham Abu Draz, 24; and ‘Essam Ibrahim Abu Ismail, 23.

At approximately 06:50, Israeli forces fired at dozens of Palestinian civilians who raised white flags and attempted to leave Khuza’a village, and forced them to go back homes.

At approximately 07:15, Israeli forces fired at a number of Palestinian civilians who attempted to leave Khuza’a through a dirt road leading to ‘Abassan village.  One of these civilians, Mohammed Ahmed Suleiman al-Najjar, 56, was killed by a bullet to the neck.  Two civilians were also wounded.

Also at approximately 08:30, medical crews were able to recover the body of Fadi Yousef Ahmed al-Najjar, 27, who is physically disabled, from Khuza’a village.  He was killed by Israeli shelling.

At approximately 09:50, an Israeli drone fired a missile at a motor cart on which a number of Palestinian civilians were traveling attempting to leave Khuza’a village.  As a result, 4 civilians were killed and another 2 ones were wounded.  The victims have not been identified as their bodies were burnt.”

Khuzaa. Photo Anne Paq

Rezgha Abu Rujeila, 70 year-old, holds Sanad her grandson, who was injured during an attack on the village of Khuza’a.  Photo: Anne Paq for MEE

The most complete social media account comes from Khuza’a resident Mahmoud Ismail who tweeted out updates from the village. They were translated by Mohammad Alsaafin who retweeted them. The updates read:

“My family & I made it out, light injuries. Hundreds of casualties, bodies in the streets. Many of the dead in Khuza’a bled to death bc ambulances unable to reach. From my window I watched a 20 yr old die for hours. One doctor, Kamal Abu Rjeila, treated injuries that came into his clinic even after it was bombed & his father killed. The Israeli army used ten families as human shields. They took over their homes and wouldn’t let them escape.Home I was sheltering in with 50 others was bombed. I don’t know what happened to them but my shoes soaked in their blood. We escaped to our home under the cover of the dust from the bombing. Minutes later, it was hit by 3 artillery shells. We tried to escape on foot to Khuzaa’s exit, but helicopters fired on us. I saw a woman carrying her dead child in one arm and a white flag in the other. She used the white flag to wrap his body. As we walked I saw my uncle and his son, dead on the road next to their house. Snipers were hitting people in the legs. My other cousin died trying to save his bleeding brother in the street. They died on top of each other. There are corpses still lying in the streets, injured people waiting to become corpses, families who still haven’t escaped”

This report by Ala Qandil and Anne Paq records the testimony of Rasmiye Qudeh who lost her husband Salem in the bombing when their hiding place was targeted in Khuzaa.

“Qudeh, who lost her husband this morning, says that four of her sons have been captured by the Israeli army.

“They went outside, risking their lives to look for another shelter for us, and the IOF took my four sons,” she said.”

These prisoners are being held illegally and are being abandoned to their fate by the International Community.   All efforts must be made to obtain their release and to reunite them with their devastated family members in Gaza who to this day have no idea why they are being detained.

Please note:  Photo of Palestinian Prisoners is an archive photo. 

Additional link to Mohammed Omer’s testimony at the Russell Tribunal 2014 on Palestine.

Mohammed also talks about the “missing of Gaza” and confirms that many families still have no information regarding the whereabouts of their relatives and no idea if they are dead or alive.

One thought on “The Missing of Gaza ~ Civilians taken prisoner by IOF during Operation Protective Edge.

  1. This issue become so complicated and day after day gazian life get worse. all events there are true but when we take a brave tablets and speak about them, “they” ignore, lie and argue us about evidences. till we find ourselves turned from a rights seekers to guilty guys.. this is nonsense. and the main global power always help israel on its goals, and serve its agenda.

    Like

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