Occupied Lives: No child should have to go through this
On Sunday, 07 October 2012, at approximately 5.30pm, Israel’s forces launched 2 missiles targeting 2 men on a motorbike as they were passing by Taha Hussain Elementary School in the Al-Brazil neighborhood of Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip. Subsequently, 1 of the targeted men died of shrapnel wounds, while the other had one of his legs amputated, according to medical sources. 8 civilian bystanders, including 4 children and 1 woman, were also wounded in the attack. Israel’s forces often use airstrikes for extra judicial execution of suspected members of armed groups in densely-populated areas of the Gaza Strip. Israel refers to these as ‘targeted killings’. However, on many occasions such attacks also injure and kill civilians who are in the vicinity of the target. Sabrin Al-Maqousi (23), and her 2 children, Bisan (1 month) and Nassim (2), were wounded in the attack. Her cousin, Jehad Al-Qatrous (27), was also wounded in the same attack.
Sabrin lives in Jabalia but she was with her children, visiting her family in Rafah, when the attack happened. She recalls: “My son Nassim was sitting at the entrance of the house when the missiles were launched. I rushed to bring him inside and found that he had already been injured by shrapnel. He just kept saying, “There is some blood on me, there is some blood on me.” Some people came and put him in a car to take him to hospital. I was trying to calm my other baby down when I noticed that she was also bleeding from her head. Both of the children were then rushed to the hospital. It was only after they left, that I felt a sharp pain in my leg. I had also been hit by shrapnel, and was bleeding. My cousin, who lives next door, was also injured, and we were both rushed to hospital in an ambulance.”
The casualties were first taken to Abu-Yousif Al-Najjar hospital in Rafah. The hospital was overcrowded, so they were all transferred to the European hospital, where they received treatment for their injuries: “They removed the shrapnel from our bodies, and the baby and I were discharged after about 5 hours. However, Nassim was admitted because his wounds were more serious. My cousin had shrapnel lodged in his legs. One piece of shrapnel was removed, but the doctor said that the other one requires surgery. He also temporarily lost his sense of hearing because one of his ears had been injured.”
Sabrin fears for the safety and security of her children and her entire family. She is both distressed and worried about future attacks and the consequences for her family and loved ones: “When I came back home, I kept crying. I woke up several times that night, fearing that something else was going to happen. I was both angry and sad about what had happened to my family. We had just come to visit my family and have some fun with them, but we ended up wounded. My children are not even old enough to understand what happened to them. Nassim is only aware that he was hurt by Israel’s forces and nothing else beyond that. He cannot walk around as he used to before, and he is scared. I am also really scared by what happened and how sudden it was. What if it had been worse? Our entire lives would have been changed by it.”
Since the attack, Sabrin says that her constant hope has been for peace and to feel safe once more: “When I saw my children wounded and being taken away, I became psychologically affected. It was almost as if I wasn’t there. You only expect such things to happen on TV, but not to you and your family. I witnessed Operation Cast Lead and I have seen attacks on the tunnels in Rafah, but none of those things scared me as much as seeing my own children hurt. It is completely unacceptable for children to be wounded in this manner. I really hope for a change to the situation in Gaza. Nobody should have to go through this and especially no child should have to go through this.”
The direct targeting of a civilian object constitutes a war crime, as codified in Article 8(2) (b) (ii) of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. Similarly, under Article 53 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, the destruction of private property is prohibited unless rendered absolutely necessary by military operations. Intentionally launching an indiscriminate attack constitutes a war crime as defined in Article 8 (2) (b) of the Rome Statute of the ICC. Furthermore, according to the principle of proportionality, which is codified in Article 51 (5) (b) of Additional Protocol 1 to the Geneva Conventions, an attack that may be expected to cause incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians, damage to civilian objects or a combination thereof is considered excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated.
Published by the Palestine Centre for Human Rights