The area of Sejaiya
(in the northern Gaza Strip) is one of Hamas' major terrorist
strongholds which serves as a central launching point for rockets aimed
at the civilian population in Israel.
In addition, this major
terrorist stronghold includes a large rocket hide-out and weapons'
manufacturing facilities. Also in the area are approximately ten terror
tunnels leading to Israeli territory, constructed for the purpose of
carrying out terrorist attacks against Israelis.
deliberately located its terrorist infrastructures in the midst of the
civilian population of Sejaiya. Hamas' activities violate various rules
of international law, including Article 58 of the Additional Protocol I
of the Geneva Conventions, which prohibits locating legitimate military
targets "within or near densely populated areas."
starting operations near Sejaiya, the IDF engaged in extensive efforts
to warn uninvolved civilians in the neighborhood. It issued many
warnings to the civilian population there during the past three days,
through the use of flyers, phone calls and announcements in the Arabic
media. Israel asked the civilians of Sejaiya to evacuate to specified
safer areas for their own protection.
Hamas Ministry of the Interior repeats the call to Gazan residents not
to heed the IDF's telephone warnings to immediately evacuate their
houses, describing the phone calls as psychological warfare against the
Gazan population (Facebook page of the Gazan ministry of the interior,
July 15, 2014).
Right: The IDF's flyer instructing the residents of
Sejaiya and Zeitoun, east of Gaza City, to vacate their houses and move
to the central part of the city.
Hamas is preventing the civilian population from evacuating the neighborhood. It is using the civilian population as human shields
to protect Hamas terrorists and their illegal activities. Even now,
Hamas continues to call upon civilians - from the mosques, the streets
and through the media - not to evacuate.
These activities by
Hamas clearly violate the laws of armed conflict which strictly forbid
directing the movement of civilians to shield military targets from
attack (Article 51(7) of the Additional Protocol I of the Geneva
In order to meet the humanitarian needs of the
population of Sejaiya, Israel approved a medical-humanitarian ceasefire
today in the area between 13:30-15:30 Israel time (20 July). Israel then
extended the ceasefire by two hours (until 17:30) for the benefit of
the civilians there.
Israel again called on the population to
evacuate the area within this timeframe for their own safety. Israel
gave instructions to move westwards towards Gaza City, beyond the Salah
Hamas continued to fire, violating the humanitarian
ceasefire again, clearly demonstrating its disregard for the lives of
the civilians of Sejaiya.
Israel regrets any harm to uninvolved
civilians, but it is Hamas that bears full responsibility for the damage
to Sejaiya and the suffering of its residents. Hamas both embedded its
missiles and other military targets among the civilians population and
then ordered the civilians to remain and act as human shields. Its war
crimes and violations of basic morality should be widely condemned by
all persons of conscience.