Since the start of the war between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, the Israeli army has dropped more than 25,000 tons of explosives on the Gaza Strip, the equivalent of two atomic bombs, the Geneva-based European-Mediterranean Observatory for Human Rights reported yesterday (” Euro-Med Monitor”).
According to the human rights organization, the Israeli army has announced that it has bombed more than 12,000 sites in the Palestinian enclave. A record amount of explosives was used in the strikes, exceeding 10 kilograms of explosives per person. “Euro-Med Monitor” emphasizes that the weight of the atomic bombs dropped by the US on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945 amounted to about 15,000 tons of explosives.
Due to technological developments, the explosives dropped on Gaza may be twice as powerful as an atomic bomb in total, the human rights organization notes. This means that the destructive power of the explosives dropped on Gaza exceeds that of the bomb used against Hiroshima. “Euro-med monitor” noted that the area of the Japanese city is 900 square kilometers, while the area of Gaza does not exceed 360 square kilometers.
The human rights group’s statement emphasized that Israel uses bombs with enormous destructive power, some of which range from 150 to 1,000 kilograms. Euro-Med Monitor quotes a recent statement by Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Galant that more than 10,000 bombs have been dropped on Gaza City alone.
Israel has been documented using internationally banned weapons in its attacks on the Palestinian enclave, Euro-Med Monitor points out. These are cluster and phosphorous munitions that contain toxic substances that stick to the skin, react quickly to oxygen and cause severe second and third degree burns.
A Euro-Med Monitor team has documented cases of Israeli airstrike injuries in Gaza that resemble injuries caused by cluster munitions. The weapons in question cause deep wounds, with shrapnel causing severe burns and melting the skin, and sometimes causing death. Fragments from cluster munitions cause unusual swelling and poisoning of the body, as well as internal injuries from transparent fragments that are not visible on X-rays.
Israel’s use of high explosives in densely populated areas poses the greatest threat to the civilian population in modern armed conflicts, Euro-Med Monitor warns.
The human rights organization emphasizes that Israel’s destructive and indiscriminate attacks are in violation of international humanitarian law, according to which the protection of the civilian population is mandatory in all cases and under all circumstances, and that the killing of civilians is considered a war crime under both international and in local armed conflicts. Violation of this requirement may amount to a crime against humanity.
The Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907 and the Geneva Convention of 1949 regulate basic human rights during war to prevent the deadly health effects of weapons that are prohibited by international law. The use of certain prohibited weapons can cause “genocide”.
Article 25 of the Hague Regulations on the Laws and Customs of War on Land states: “The attack or bombardment by any means of towns, villages, dwellings or buildings which are not defended is prohibited,” recalls “Euro-Med Monitor”.
Furthermore, Article 53 of the Fourth Geneva Convention states: “Any destruction by the occupying power of immovable or personal property belonging individually or collectively to private individuals, to the State, to other public authorities or to social or cooperative organizations shall be prohibited, except when such destruction is absolutely necessary due to military operations”. Violations of Art. 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention are considered serious violations of the law of armed conflict and therefore war crimes, writes BTA.
The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Watch is calling for the creation of an independent international commission to investigate the amount of explosives and weapons banned by the international community that Israel has used against civilians in the Gaza Strip. The human rights organization also appealed to the international community “to hold accountable all those responsible for these inhumane attacks and to take all necessary measures to ensure justice for the Palestinian victims.”