Israeli army summarily executed fleeing civilians in southern Gaza

Palestinians walk past houses destroyed by Israeli airstrikes and shelling in Khuzaa, 3 August.

Ramadan El-Agha APA images

Even before a short-lived ceasefire allowed journalists to enter the besieged southern Gaza Strip town of Khuzaa on 1 August, desperate reports of an Israeli massacre — including execution-style shootings — had emerged from survivors who had escaped to nearby Khan Younis.

Once journalists were able to enter the choked-off village, they found slain bodies and the stench of decay. Journalist Jesse Rosenfeld described one scene, among several, that appeared to be the site of a summary execution: “Blood and blackened remnants are caked on the bathroom floor. The walls have been drenched in blood and they are pocked with scores of bullet holes that look as if they were fired from an automatic weapon at waist level.”

Fifty-one bodies were recovered on 1 August.

Deliberately firing on civilans

On Saturday, Ali Abunimah reported on a video apparently made by Israeli soldiers from the Givati brigade on 30 July, recording their dedication of the destruction of a mosque in Khuzaa to fallen Israeli soldiers.

Now, after conducting its own investigations into the events between 23 and 25 July, Human Rights Watch has accused the Israeli army of deliberately firing on and killing civilians in the southern Gaza town of Khuzaa, violating several laws of war.

After interviewing surviving witnesses in Khan Younis, Human Rights Watch was able to chronicle the war crimes committed by the Israeli army. Such crimes include firing on civilians carrying white flags in an attempt to flee the village; shooting at medical workers attending to a mortally wounded Red Crescent paramedic volunteer; denying medical care to Palestinians in Israeli custody; and shooting at civilians after they were ordered to exit their homes.

This is not the first time such crimes have been committed in Khuzaa. As both Human Rights Watch and the Goldstone report documented, during Israel’s 2008-2009 offensive on Gaza Israeli soldiers shot at several Palestinians in Khuzaa carrying white flags, killing at least one and injuring more.

“Large craters”

Khuzaa has a population of approximately 10,000 and lies between Khan Younis and Gaza’s eastern boundary with Israel. Employees of Human Rights Watch have yet to be able to enter Khuzaa, saying that all four roads leading to the town have been replaced by “large bomb craters.”

For weeks, Khuzaa was completely isolated from ambulance services and much of the media as Israeli forces fired on its residents by air and ground assault.

The one exception was on 24 July, when the Israeli military allowed the Red Cross to enter Khuzaa for just one hour to retrieve the injured and collect dead bodies. The next day, on 25 July, Israeli forces granted a request submitted by the International Committee of the Red Cross to permit the Palestine Red Crescent Society to do the same.

But still, the Red Crescent was unable to reach many families. Furthermore, as reported by the International Committee of the Red Cross, Israel attacked a volunteer with the Red Crescent while he was attempting to treat the wounded. Paramedics tried to rush him to a hospital, but were also targeted by Israel. The volunteer died.

Unable to escape

Human Rights Watch reports that Israel gave advanced warnings to the residents of Khuzaa prior to 21 July, but notes that civilians’ failure to evacuate an area that has been given an advanced warning does not make them lawful targets.

Instead, as the investigation makes clear, Israel deliberately shot at Palestinians as they tried to flee their homes and village.

In one incident described by Human Rights Watch that took place on 25 July, an Israeli airstrike shelled a home that was sheltering 120 people in its basement, killing three civilians: five-year-old Motassem al-Najjar, seventy-year-old Salim Qdeih and 62-year-old Kamel al-Najjar. Fifteen were injured.

When the survivors of the strike tried to flee, carrying white flags over their heads, another Israeli missile struck the group, killing one man and injuring another.

While many towns located on the eastern boundary with Israel fled following Israel’s ground assault on 18 July, residents of Khuzaa were unable to escape. Speaking from Khan Younis, Akram al-Najjar, 15, told Human Rights Watch that Israel began shelling the village on 18 July, and his family ran “from house to house seeking shelter.”

Al-Najjar added that he and about one hundred others had gathered in one house on 23 July. Once the Israelis found them and ordered them to leave, al-Najjar said: “The first one to walk out of the house was Shahid al-Najjar. He had his hands up, but the soldiers shot him. He was shot in the jaw and badly injured, but he survived.”

The army then ordered the rest of the men to take off their clothes before exiting the house. Everyone was then separated by age and gender; women and boys under 14 were ordered to leave the village by foot, while the men were shuffled between houses after putting on their clothes.

“He was shot”

Akram al-Najjar was put in a group with boys ages 14 to 19. He reported: “We had walked from the dunes and had reached the mosque. We got 50 meters past it, and soldiers started shooting at us. The shooting injured three of us. One of them died. He was shot in the stomach.”

According to Akram’s grandfather, 75-year-old Mohammad al-Najjar, Israel detained all the men between the ages of 16 and 50 and “let the rest of us go.” He believes that his three sons are still in Israeli custody, along with hundreds of others that have been detained in Gaza.

The full Human Rights Watch report documents several of the laws of war Israel violated in Khuzaa — yet still only a partial picture of what occurred in Khuzaa is illuminated.

In the report, Human Rights Watch urges the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas to seek International Criminal Court jurisdiction over crimes committed on and from Palestinian territory as a means to achieve accountability and deter war crimes.




So Israeli forces are rounding up men and boys of "fighting age" and there is evidence of summary executions. Sounds a lot like '47/48.


This policy of genocide has been going on continuously since 1948 while the world stands by thus allowing the zionist monster to maim and kill at will.


Where is any of the world, including the so called brother Arab nations. Too busy rattling around Riyadh or London in their million dollar cars...


Some maybe, but many Arab countries are mired in terrible conflict themselves, mainly created by the western powers following the zionist masterplan to create their empire in the Middle East (They're also involved in the takeover of the Ukraine).
Their illusions of grandeur know no bounds nor does their lack of a shred of human decency or ethics.
Divide and conquer, by the cruellest means possible, evident in their unspeakable acts of barbery, is their maxim, but pride comes before a fall, so God speed the Day
We shall overcome!


Israel is the only civilized country in the middle east who commited open genocide. Civilized Israeli Soldiers (or should I call terrorist) turned to savages.


Or 1941-45 -- in Vichy France and other occupied countries.


As I have made clear in these comments previously, genocide and the
absolute demand for exclusivity have pervaded Zionism since its inception.
What Netanyahu now refers to as "Biblical concerns" is documented clearly
in the late Michael Prior's landmark book, THE BIBLE AND COLONIALISM:
A MORAL CRITIQUE. As Prior has documented it is not only "Jewish". In this
regard he also includes the (Christian) Crusades, the colonial movements
of the Portuguese, the "Puritans" in North America, the Spannish, the
Dutch Reformed in South Africa. His prime focus remains Zionism and much
of the work of this Catholic Priest was written in Palestine.

All of us committed to Palestine must read this work. It is not only for "theologians" but encompasses much of what has become "business as usual". Its roots go back before 1948. The extermination will continue until all of Palestine Israelis see as belonging them alone is theirs and theirs alone.
(Any questionning of this "sacred" goal is by their definition "anti-Semitic".)

There are other major works but this explains why the extermination continues
and will continue. Zionists regard it as sacred (mandated by Divinity).

---Peter Loeb, Boston, MA



I will indeed read this book. At the moment am at the beginning of "The Idea of Israel. A History Of Power And Knowledge" by Ilan Pappe, that I would also urge everyone to read.
I thought reading his "The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine" was painful, but to read this new work while Gazans are being murdered is almost too much to bear.
It begins with details of the very early 1900s racism Zionists wrote about and practised against the Palestinians Arabs and their intolerance, blaming Arabs for being there, when they couldn't get what they wanted, which is blatantly evident in Israel today.


To Artemis:

Both the books by Ilan Pappe are of great significance. Michael Prior CM
( SheffieldlAcademic Press, 1997) before Dr. Pappe's work . Prior is available via
Amazon etc. Prior's work extends the examination to centuries of tradition. It
is not a substituite for Pappe but rather a deep moral inquiry into the roots.

You are definitely on the right track: thanks!

The truth of history is often "painful" . Disregard it at your own peril.

Peter Loeb, Boston, MASS, USA


This is sickening. These murderers need to be put on trial for these war crimes. This can't be allowed to go on unpunished.


Where is the so called civilized world? That is a good question.
I have long ceased to believe that people in the countries I originate from (Europe and the US) are in any way more civilized than those the majority consider themselves to be superior to. In fact, I have experienced some of the most exquisite forms of what I consider to be civilized behaviour among the Arab peoples and not in Europe or the US.


I couldn't agree with you more, Artemis!


In former Yugoslavia, when soldiers shot groups of unarmed people, the international community, especially Europe and even America, called this ethnocide, an act akin to genocide and of course a crime against humanity.

When Israel shoots unarmed people, civilians running away or the wounded, politicians call it "the right to defend itself".

It is not just in Israel and Palestine. Throughout the world these last 20 years, there are constant crimes of war, many hundreds committed by the US army itself for example. No one is brought to justice. In fact, in the USA, those who denounce crimes of war are the only ones who finish in prison (i.e. Manning).

In this case, when you demand that human rights and international law be respected for all, you are accused of being anti-jewish or hateful.

Michael Lessard
Quebec City (Canada)


Michael is absolutely on target.

See (Prof) Lawrence Davidson's most recent analysis in:


Also appears under another title in the most recent issue of

---Peter Loeb


You're right Michael but that's only by evil-minded zionists and their quislings.They have no defense, so let's never be intimidated by them.


And a sound was heard in rammah. Rachel weeping for ALL of her children. How long o Lord?

Charlotte Silver

Charlotte Silver's picture

Charlotte Silver is an independent journalist and regular writer for The Electronic Intifada. She is based in Oakland, California and has reported from Palestine since 2010. Follow her on Twitter @CharESilver.