| Urgent intl investigation needed to probe Israeli war crimes after Palestinian civilians buried alive at Gazas Kamal Adwan Hospital | MR Online

Urgent int’l investigation needed to probe Israeli war crimes after Palestinian civilians buried alive at Gaza’s Kamal Adwan Hospital

Originally published: Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor on December 16, 2023 by Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor Staff (more by Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor)  | (Posted Dec 18, 2023)

The Israeli army has reportedly buried wounded Palestinian civilians alive outside of Kamal Adwan Hospital in the Gaza Strip’s northern town of Beit Lahia, after nine consecutive days of total siege, raids, and horrifying atrocities in the area. An independent international investigation must be opened into these reports, Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor said in a press release issued on Saturday.

Before they left the medical facility this morning, Israeli bulldozers buried Palestinian civilians alive in the hospital courtyard, according to testimonies the Geneva-based organisation received from media and medical crews on the ground. At least one of the bodies could be seen amid the sand piles, witnesses said, confirming that the victim was injured before being buried and killed.

According to Euro-Med Monitor, Israeli army bulldozers drove into the hospital this morning and totally destroyed its southern section, leaving behind massive destruction following several days of non-stop attacks and siege. Nine days ago, Israeli tanks had besieged the hospital, with Israeli snipers taking over the surrounding buildings and shooting at anyone passing by, the rights group said.

Euro-Med Monitor teams are continuing to document what happened at Kamal Adwan Hospital today, and emphasised the need to open an international investigation into the horrific violations that the facility witnessed over the past several days against patients, displaced people, and medical staff as part of Israeli’s deliberate and systematic targeting of health facilities in the Gaza Strip since 7 October.

Israeli forces directly bombed the hospital’s maternity ward on Monday 11 December, killing two women and their two babies and amputating a third woman’s legs. The following day (Tuesday 12 December), Israeli army forces arrested the hospital director, Dr Ahmed Al-Kahlot, and transferred more than 70 health personnel from the hospital to an unknown destination.

The Israeli forces have stormed the hospital several times since then, turning its roofs and buildings into military barracks as well as imposing a complete siege on those trapped inside and depriving them of food and water. An unnamed eyewitness, who requested anonymity for fear of retaliation, claimed that 48 hours after Israeli forces had overrun the hospital and imposed a strict siege, they ordered all males—including the medical staff—to congregate in the hospital courtyard. They then separated them into groups of five and photographed them to confirm their identities.

Israeli forces later evacuated the majority of those trapped in the hospital, including 65 injured individuals, 12 children in intensive care, six premature babies, 2,500 displaced people, and 100 medical personnel, in groups. Nearly 10 metres away from the hospital, they forced the males to remove all of their clothing, except for their boxers. They held the victims outdoors for six hours before arresting about 50 to 60 of them; the rest were released and told to head to shelter centres at schools. About 50 patients, along with their families and five doctors and nurses, were kept in one of the hospital’s departments without food, water, or electricity.

During the raid, Israeli forces destroyed the hospital’s external gates, part of its administration building, and its pharmacy; burned the medicine store before demolishing it; destroyed the water well, the electricity generator, and the oxygen station; created a large hole in the hospital courtyard; and exhumed about 26 bodies of dead people who, unable to be buried in cemeteries due to the ongoing Israeli attacks, had been previously buried in the yard. Israeli bulldozers removed the bodies in a humiliating manner, stated Euro-Med Monitor, in violation of the dead’s dignity.

Although an image of four individuals leaving a hospital with four Kalashnikov weapons was published by the Israeli army in an attempt to depict them as militants, said Euro-Med Monitor, its initial investigation has revealed that those pictured are a trained doctor, a nurse, and two displaced civilians, and that Israeli forces forced them to hold the weapons of the Israeli security officers guarding the hospital gates.

Euro-Med Monitor received testimonies confirming that an elderly man was recently starved to death in the hospital, while another was killed after an Israeli military dog was let loose on him. Others, including two patients, in addition to children, have died in the intensive care unit after failing to receive the proper medical care. The rights organisation said that the atrocities committed by Israeli forces at Kamal Adwan Hospital are part of the Israeli army’s repeated and systematic attacks on health facilities, crews, and ambulances, ongoing since 7 October, which aim to destroy the Gaza Strip’s health care system, constituting a war crime under the rules of international humanitarian law.

Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor stressed that hospitals, medical facilities, and vehicles are civilian targets that enjoy special protection under international humanitarian law, or the laws of war. Therefore, specific protection to which hospitals are entitled shall not cease unless they are used by a party to the conflict to commit, outside their humanitarian functions, an “act harmful to the enemy”. International humanitarian laws—laws that Israel flagrantly violates—stress that medical personnel must be protected and allowed to perform their work.

So far, Israel has not provided any solid evidence proving that hospitals in the Gaza Strip are being used for any other purpose than health work. Euro-Med Monitor expressed grave concern over Israeli forces’ turning Gaza’s hospitals into military barracks, sniper sites, and detention centers for medical personnel, patients, and internally displaced people, particularly given the vast number of injured civilians in the Strip due to Israel’s current genocide of Palestinians.

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