May 13, 2010

Khuza’a, al-Shoka, and al-Fokhari

Israeli forces entered several areas near the Sufa crossing in south-eastern Gaza on or after January 11, residents said.  Human Rights Watch visited the village of Khuza’a, which lies very close to the 1949 armistice line, and the agricultural areas of al-Shokha and al-Fokhari, to the southwest.  The latter areas are divided by the road that leads north from the Sufa crossing point, with al-Fokhari lying on the western side of the road.  In the case of Khuza’a, residents witnessed bulldozers destroying residential buildings on January 11 and 13.  In al-Shoka and al-Fokhari, residents said they fled their homes during attacks that began on January 14, and returned after January 18 to find their homes bulldozed. While in al-Shoka and al-Fokhari many buildings were destroyed during a period when residents had left the area and before they returned, the type and extent of the destruction are not consistent with attacks against individual military objects or with damage sustained during fighting.

Human Rights Watch investigated homes that were demolished on the extreme eastern edge of Khuza’a, which lies approximately 500 meters from the 1949 armistice line.  Human Rights Watch is unaware of any evidence or Israeli claims, and residents of Khuza’a denied, that houses in the neighborhood were used to cover tunnels or for other military purposes.  It does not appear likely that the IDF would have destroyed these buildings in an attempt to prevent the construction of tunnels from houses to the border, because much of Khuza’a lies close enough to the border to enable tunneling. The IDF has not provided any information to explain why it destroyed  these houses.

Satellite imagery (see Khuza’a, below) shows that the IDF also destroyed greenhouses, areas of cultivated agricultural land, and other structures on the opposite side of the village from the swathe of destroyed houses Human Rights Watch investigated.  It would have been difficult to tunnel towards the Israeli border from these other destroyed areas; their destruction may indicate that the IDF targeted areas that posed less risk to the troops carrying out the demolition, since no demolitions by ground forces occurred in or near the center of the village but only on its outskirts or in exposed open areas nearby.  The areas of al-Shoka and al-Fokhari where Human Rights Watch documented destruction lie more than 2.8 kilometers from the border. 

Members of Palestinian armed groups engaged with IDF forces in Khuza’a, but residents of Khuza’a, al-Shoka and al-Fokhari said no militants were in these areas at the time Israeli forces attacked.

In addition to destroying 53 private homes, agricultural land, greenhouses and two cement factories in these areas, Israeli forces also blew up a large, 30-meter-high water tank that serviced the communities of al-Shoka, al-Fokhari and al-Nasir.[210]  Atra Abd al-Majid al-Amor, 90, who lived next to the water tank, did not witness its demolition, but he told Human Rights Watch that a nearby house was also demolished in the explosion (Human Rights Watch did not examine this house).[211] Human Rights Watch researchers found large amounts of electrical wiring produced by Teldor, an Israeli company that supplies the IDF with equipment including wires and cables, which may have been used to wire explosives around the tower.[212] A water tower used by three civilian agricultural communities constitutes an object indispensable to the survival of the civilian population and cannot be destroyed.[213]

Khuza’a

Situated east of Khan Yunis and approximately 500 meters from the 1949 armistice line with Israel, the village of Khuza’a is one of the Palestinian residential areas closest to Israel. Residents can see IDF watchtowers on the armistice line, which is separated from the village by open fields.

It is possible that the IDF destroyed homes in Khuza’a in order to create a buffer zone extending west from the de facto border with Israel.  The laws of war do not permit a party to the conflict to raze all civilian structures in a given area on the grounds that it would provide a buffer zone for a potential future armed conflict (see “Legal Obligations”).

From January 11 to 13, according to residents, Israeli militarized bulldozers destroyed a number of houses on the northeastern edge of Khuza’a, which lies closest to the armistice line. All the houses, on the northeastern side of Azata Street, belonged to the extended al-Najjar family.  Human Rights Watch confirmed the destruction of 14 houses on the edge of the village on January 13.[214]    Residents of the al-Najjar area said there was no fighting in the area, and that Israeli forces had established control over that area and areas further inside the village when their homes were destroyed.

UNOSAT analysis of satellite imagery confirmed that the vast majority of damage sites in Khuza’a – 109 of 118 sites – were struck from January 11 to 18, and that “almost all of the damage was along the eastern edge of Khoza’a, near the border with Israel.”[215]

Residents told Human Rights Watch that no fire was directed at the bulldozers from these homes, and Hamas had not occupied, stored weapons, or placed booby-traps in their homes prior to their destruction.[216]  These statements are consistent with statements by several residents that they fled their homes at the last moment during bulldozer attacks

Residents and local human rights activists told Human Rights Watch that Palestinian fighters had been active in the area, and an Islamic Jihad commander told the media that about a dozen fighters had directly engaged the IDF in Khuza’a.[217]  By these same accounts, the fighting was light, with the fighters retreating as Israeli forces advanced. In a series of ground incursions between January 11 and 13, Israeli forces engaged Palestinian fighters, and local officials reported numerous civilian casualties.[218] According to B’Tselem, Israeli forces killed five Palestinian militants in the village on January 11 and January 13.[219]

The IDF’s assault on Khuza’a began around 9:30 p.m. on January 10, with an intense artillery barrage in the area.[220]  The IDF heavily used air-burst, artillery-fired white phosphorus, killing one woman and injuring dozens of others.[221]

The next day, January 11, IDF ground forces moved into the al-Najjar district of Khuza’a for the first time.  From approximately 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. they stayed on the edge of the village, residents said, and D9 bulldozers destroyed several homes.  The IDF returned around 3 a.m. on January 12 and destroyed some more homes, withdrawing again around noon.

The next assault took place around midnight on January 13.  After heavy shelling throughout the night, the IDF established full control of the area’s perimeter with armored bulldozers and tanks.  By early morning, approximately 100 neighborhood residents had gathered in a small garden.  Tanks and bulldozers reached the edge of the village and Israeli soldiers used megaphones to order the residents to go to the village center.  According to three witnesses, when residents began to move, soldiers who had advanced into the neighborhood shot in their direction and forced them to turn around.[222]

Witnesses said that Israeli forces occupied two houses further inside the neighborhood and on the morning of January 13 fired on civilian residents attempting to flee while holding white flags.  An Israeli sniper shot and killed Rawhiya al-Najjar from a firing position in the doorway or just outside the doorway of one of the houses, suggesting he was not afraid of being exposed to enemy fire.[223]

The homes demolished in the al-Najjar district lay on the extreme perimeter of the village where the tanks and bulldozers had established control.[224]  After the fighting, because Israeli border guards routinely fire on Palestinians venturing towards the armistice line, it was not possible for Human Rights Watch to observe all the homes in the area that residents said were destroyed.[225]  Human Rights Watch confirmed the destruction of 14 buildings in this small area and observed two more buildings that were partly demolished.[226] The destruction we documented left at least 119 people homeless.

Nabil al-Najjar told Human Rights Watch that at 6:30 a.m. on January 13, three large, militarized bulldozers approached his home, towards the southeastern part of the area, after they had already destroyed several other houses belonging to his relatives, Ashraf and Fuad, and while one or two other bulldozers were leveling Fathi an-Najjar’s home nearby. “I saw them coming and was shouting at them in Hebrew that there were people here, a family was here,” he said.[227] He was not sure if the bulldozer operators could hear or see him.

The first two came for the house, but my house is on a small hill with nine steps leading up to it, and it was not a quick job.  They piled up sand in ramps and began destroying the balconies, then they hit the support pillars.  There were around 20 support pillars.  The third bulldozer was cleaning up the yard.  When I couldn’t get them to stop I evacuated my family. We ran down the street to a relative’s home.

By around noon that day, many members of the al-Najjar family managed to leave the area.[228]

A number of factors – the fact that Israeli forces controlled the perimeter area of the town at the time the destruction occurred; the accounts of residents that no militants, weapons or booby-traps were present in those buildings; and the fact that this area is the closest to Israeli territory – indicated that the IDF demolished these homes in order to increase the buffer zone or no man’s land between Israeli territory and inhabited parts of the Gaza Strip.  Statements by Israeli soldiers, the Israeli military’s subsequent expansion of the buffer zone to 300 meters, and the Israeli military’s past practice of clearing buffer zones in other areas of Gaza such as Rafah, support such a conclusion.  Even if this destruction of the civilian property served a military purpose, the extensive destruction raises serious concerns under the laws of war that the loss of civilian property was excessive in comparison to any expected military gain. It further appeared during Human Rights Watch’s research in the area that Israeli forces stationed at the border exerted significant control over the area between the edge of Khuza’a and the border, as residents warned against stepping into that area due to prior experiences of drawing fire from Israeli forces.  The destruction of the homes along the edge of Khuza’a would have extended Israel’s field of fire by only a few dozen meters, at most.  The destruction of these homes would not, as mentioned above, provide Israel with any significant security advantage by preventing tunnels being dug from them towards the border, since tunnels could as easily be dug from the row of homes immediately behind the ones that were destroyed, or from many other parts of Khuza’a.

Al-Shoka

To the southwest of Khuza’a, a road runs from the Sufa crossing point towards Salahaddin Road, Gaza’s main north-south artery.  On the northern side of the Sufa road lies the agricultural area of al-Shoka, which is flat and open from the border to an elevated area near Salahaddin Road.  Residents in the part of the al-Shoka area nearest the Sufa crossing, said that Israeli ground forces entered the area in armored vehicles after sunset on January 14. 

Zayed Ahmed Thabit, 53, told Human Rights Watch that he left the area that night when tanks reached an elevated area on Salahaddin Road, to the west, and began firing back towards the area.  Thabit said that the following day, as he tried to return to the area to help evacuate a neighbor’s family, he saw four bulldozers on Salahaddin Street. He said there were no Palestinian military activities in the area, and that all the buildings that were subsequently destroyed (in most cases apparently by bulldozers) were still standing when most other residents fled on January 15. He discounted the possibility that fighters could have used the open fields.  “There was nothing left to destroy around here,” he said.  “There have been no trees in the fields near the border for a long time,” due to previous Israeli incursions.  Lacking cover, he said, fighters would have been visible to Israeli ground forces from long distances and exposed to aerial attacks.[229]

Attaya family

The extended Attaya family lived in two separate clusters of homes in al-Shoka.  One part of the family lived in 12 houses packed closely together near an intersection 300 meters southwest of Sufa Road.  Most of the homes were constructed of concrete and corrugated metal; one two-story home was made of reinforced concrete.  The destruction of these structures left 40 people homeless.[230]  When Human Rights Watch visited the area, some of the residents had returned and set up tents in the rubble of their former homes.

The owner of the two-storey building, Talal Sulaiman Attaya, 37, and his wife Zenam Salim Attaya, told Human Rights Watch that the entire family evacuated the area on January 14, when the area came under intense shelling at the beginning of the ground invasion.[231]  Nahed Attaya, 35, interviewed separately, also said that their group left the area for Khan Yunis on the first day of the ground invasion, after the area came under tank fire from the east during the afternoon.  “It wasn’t fighters, it was all wheat around here,” he said.  “We rented six dunams of farmland to grow wheat and vegetables.  It’s all torn up now. During the last incursion they just destroyed the trees.”[232] 

Zenam Attaya told Human Rights Watch, “We spent a week away [after we fled]. And when we came back it was all destroyed.  Nothing had hit the house when we left. When we got back we saw some charred areas on the roof, and bulldozer tracks.”[233]  

Talal Attaya added that Israeli forces completed, during the latest incursion, the destruction of his five dunams (0.5 hectares) of olive trees, which had been partly destroyed in an incursion the previous year.[234] 

Nahed Attaya said that Israeli forces also destroyed nine large greenhouses, used to grow cucumbers, on the opposite side of the lane that forms the western border of the family’s residential area.[235]  Human Rights Watch confirmed that some greenhouses had been destroyed but could not determine the number, since the area where the greenhouses used to be had subsequently been cleared.

In another cluster of homes nearby lived a second cluster of the extended Attaya family.  Atiyya Ahmad Attaya, 69, showed Human Rights Watch the remains of destroyed homes in two adjoining compounds.  Researchers examined the remains of 12 destroyed homes, which residents said had been occupied by 66 people.[236]  Residents said they had found extensive bulldozer tracks in the area.

Attiya Attaya told Human Rights Watch that Israeli aerial strikes hit roads and open areas before the ground invasion.  In the evening of January 14, “we saw the tanks and bulldozers, still half a mile away to the east, but others had gone north and were coming back down here.  We heard drones.”  Just before sunset, he and all the other residents of the area left, heading west, due to shelling.  Ahmed Atayya, 20, said that a shell, possibly from a tank, hit the kitchen of his house, prompting the family to evacuate the area 10 minutes later.  “We went west to the European Hospital, a mile and a half away, and spent six days there.”[237]

The family returned within one or two days after the war ended to find their homes and nearby fields had been completely destroyed, apparently by bulldozers. “No one told me that this had happened,” Atiyya said. “There was no resistance in any house here. I don’t know why they destroyed them.”

Attaya said his home was 25-years-old; the most recent construction in the area was his son’s house, built in 2000. The family lost 22 dunams (five and a half acres) of 50-year-old olive trees.

Al-Imtiaz Concrete Mixing Factory

To Human Rights Watch’s knowledge, Israeli forces destroyed every concrete factory in the al-Shoka and al-Fokhari areas during the incursion.  Human Rights Watch observed destroyed property at the al-Imtiaz factory including a two-story building shared by workers and management, the concrete wall around the factory, three steel silos for storing cement, a conveyor belt, a storage tank for sand and gravel, and two weighing machines.  Muhammad Sabri Abu Daqqa, 20, the son of the owner, Sabri Abu Daqqa, said that the al-Imtiaz factory had been partly bulldozed during a prior incursion in May 2008. 

According to Abu Daqqa, so far as he was aware, no one had witnessed the complete destruction of the immovable parts of the factory.  “We used to have a guard, but he was arrested during a previous incursion last year,” he said. “And it was impossible to get here during the war.”[238] A resident of the nearby al-Fokhari area said that he saw tanks near the al-Imtiaz factory site on the evening of January 14.[239]

The factory was demolished with a combination of bulldozers and explosive charges, Abu Daqqa said. “We saw mines and wires all over the place” when he returned to the factory after the ceasefire, he said; Hamas de-miners subsequently removed the shrapnel and debris from the site. Human Rights Watch could not confirm the kinds of explosive munitions used but the remains of bulldozer tracks were still visible.

At its full capacity, the factory could produce 100 cubic meters of concrete per hour, and employed 20 workers. Abu Daqqa told Human Rights Watch that the factory had been able to operate, to an extent, during the ceasefire from June to November 4, 2008.  “Whenever Israel allowed cement in, Hamas gave us a share of it.”

Unlike most other factories, the al-Imtiaz factory’s vehicles were not destroyed: the owners had evacuated all moveable property, including the valuable mixing and pump trucks, to an area near Khan Yunis when Israel’s aerial campaign began, Abu Daqqa told Human Rights Watch. 

Al-Fokhari

Al-Fokhari lies on the eastern side of Sufa road, across from al-Shoka.  Human Rights Watch visited destroyed homes belonging to the extended al-Amor family, not far from the road dividing the two areas.[240]  

Al-Amor houses

Like the Atayya family in al-Shoka, the al-Amor family said they had fled the area on January 14 due to heavy shelling. They said that militants were not present in the area and had not made use of their homes in the past.  According to Sulaiman al-Amor, a 35-year-old cement truck driver, “We fled at around sunset when a tank shell hit the houses. I didn’t have time even to take my ID. The tanks were nearly at the al-Imtiaz factory.”[241]  Al-Amor said his family spent four days at the UNRWA al-Farabi elementary school, before returning home to find their houses had all been destroyed.

Based on information from several residents, during the offensive Israeli forces destroyed 10 houses where 67 people lived.[242]  Most of the homes were more than 10 years old.  Atwa al-Amor, 30, said the family owned 30 dunams of olive trees that were razed by bulldozers.[243] 

Abu Sita Concrete Mixing Factory and al-Amor and al-Orjan Homes

Across open fields to the east of the Attaya family’s property, the Abu Sita concrete factory sits on a road that intersects with Sufa Road half a mile to the north.[244]  The factory’s owner, Samir Abd al-Qadir Abu Sita, 52, told Human Rights Watch that he did not witness it himself, but residents of the area told him the factory was destroyed on January 16. 

Human Rights Watch observed that three cement pump trucks, four cement mixing trucks, two dump trucks, two small bulldozers and two private cars had been destroyed on the lot.  The lot was covered in large track marks consistent with the treads of a militarized bulldozer; the type of damage to the factory vehicles, which were pushed onto their sides or flipped upside down and partly or wholly crushed, also suggested that large militarized bulldozers had destroyed them.   The main factory building and the metal silo used to store cement, had been damaged by heavy machine gun fire.

Before Israel closed Gaza’s borders to cement imports in early November 2008, Samir Abu Sita said, the factory employed 26 workers and could produce 120 cubic meters of concrete per hour. 

On the eastern side of the lot, behind the factory area, were the remains of two concrete homes, both of which had been three stories high. Their destruction left nine families homeless.[245] 

Immediately to the east of the Abu Sita family property, three other homes had also been demolished.  Human Rights Watch spoke to Eid Sulaiman al-Orjan, 70, and his sons Sulaiman Eid, 42, Ahmad Eid, 39; and Salim Eid, 29.  During a group interview, the al-Orjan family members said 18 people had lived in the buildings, all of whom left the area together after sundown on Wednesday, January 14, because of shelling from the east.  “They targeted the big houses first, with tanks,” Sulaiman al-Orjan said.  “There were also lots of airstrikes in open areas.”[246]  The family fled to an UNRWA school to the west, leaving their houses and the concrete factory relatively unscathed. 

Ahmad al-Orjan said that the family returned after the ceasefire to find all their goats had died, possibly due to a white phosphorus attack. “Their eyes and noses were covered in fluid when we returned,” he said, which he believed was the result of their inhaling a poisonous chemical.  He also saw the charred remains of burning wedges consistent with white phosphorus munitions in the area. 

Sulaiman al-Orjan added that most of the family’s 20 dunams (2 hectares) of wheat had been destroyed by IDF vehicles. 

[210] The water tank was located at 31°17'4.72"N / 34°18'45.99"E.

[211] Human Rights Watch interview with Atra Abd al-Majid al-Amor, al-Fokhari, April 16, 2009.

[212] The wire displayed the following identifying information: TELDOR 9062128109 2X28 AWG OSS 0797600/48790.

[213] Additional Protocol 1, Art 54 (2)(3).

[214] For example, two of the destroyed homes close to the 1949 armistice line are located at 31°18'38.34"N / 34°22'0.42"E (Tawfiq al-Najjar) and 31°18'38.88"N / 34°22'1.98"E (Nabil al-Najjar).

[215] UNOSAT, “Satellite image analysis in support to the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict,” April 27, 2009, p. 23, copy on file with Human Rights Watch.

[216] Human Rights Watch interviews with Nabil, Tawfiq, and Osama al-Najjar, Khuza’a, April 19, 2009; and with Ismail Khadr and Iman al-Najjar, Khuza’a, January 24, 2009.

[217] Ashraf Khalil, “In Gaza Town, A Bitter Aftermath,” Los Angeles Times, February 15, 2009,  http://articles.latimes.com/2009/feb/15/world/fg-gaza-reconstruct15 (accessed June 26, 2009).

[218] Ashraf Khalil, “In Gaza Town, A Bitter Aftermath,” Los Angeles Times, February 15, 2009.

[219] B’Tselem lists the following names, ages and dates of death of alleged combatants killed in Khuza’a: Nur Muhammad Nur a-Din ‘Amesh, 24, January 11; Nidal Muhammad Hassan Abu Reidah, 18, January 13; Suliman Jum’ah ‘Amesh, 19, January 13; ‘Alaa Ahmad Abu Reidah, 21, January 13; Ahmad Jum’ah Ahmad Abu Jamus, 27, January 13. PCHR also reported that Nour ‘Amesh was killed in Khuza’a on January 11.  Local residents said he was killed by a drone-fired missile.  See Human Rights Watch, Rain of Fire: Israel’s Unlawful Use of White Phosphorus in Gaza, page 53.

[220]  On January 10, an IDF spokesperson, Capt. Guy Spiegelman, denied that the IDF had conducted operations “in the area of Khuzaa” on that day.  Adel Zaanoun, “Three Palestinians killed, dozens hurt in Gaza,” Agence France-Presse, January 10, 2009.

[221] Hanan al-Najjar, 47, died on January 10, when a spent 155mm artillery shell containing white phosphorus crashed through the roof of her house, killing her and wounding her four children.  See Human Rights Watch, Rain of Fire.

[222] Human Rights Watch, White Flag Deaths: Killings of Palestinian Civilians during Operation Cast Lead, August 2009, p.17.

[223] Israeli forces shot at an ambulance that came to retrieve her body, forcing it to turn around, and shot and killed Mahmoud al-Najjar, a relative of Rawhiya al-Najjar’s, when he returned to the area to try to retrieve her body. Ibid., p. 19.

[224] Ibid., p. 18.

[225] These included homes lying close to the border to the east, that residents said belonged to Khalid abd el-Aziz al-Najjar, Majid Fathi al-Najjar, and Ramsi al-Najjar. These homes were allegedly all demolished.

[226] From west to east, parallel to Azata street, the following buildings were all partially or completely destroyed: 1) Ayman Muhammad al-Najjar, 38, lived with his wife and five children in a home that was partly demolished. 2) Shawqi Hamdan, 44, lived with his wife and eight children in a destroyed one-story home. 3) Muhammad M’Selim al-Najjar, in his late 20s, lived in a home with his wife and three children that is still habitable but was damaged at the back. 4) Shawgi M’Sellam, 41, lived in a two-story home, now destroyed, with his wife and seven children. 5) Osama al-Najjar, 39, his wife and six children lived in a two-story home that was destroyed. 6) Tawfiq Sulaiman, 58, owned but did not live in a building, now destroyed, where Mahmoud Ibrahim al-Najjar, 25, recently married, and his wife inhabited the second floor. 7) Beside Tawfiq lived Hazim al-Najjar, around 40 years old, his wife and two daughters; their home was destroyed. 8) In another, single-story house close by, now destroyed, Ibrahim Abd al-Aziz al-Najjar, 58, his wife and seven children. 9) East of Ibrahim al-Najjar’s house was a multi-story building inhabited by several families before the IDF leveled it. The ground floor was inhabited by Khaled al-Najjar, 45, his wife and eight children; on the second floor, Yusuf Muhammad al-Najjar, in his 50s, his wife Su’ad, and their three sons and two daughters occupied two apartments; Yusuf al-Najjar’s son Fadi, in his mid 20s, lived on the third floor with his wife and two children. 10) Just south of Yousuf was a one story home owned by Ashraf Marzuq al-Najjar, 35, his wife and six children. 11) East of these homes was Fuad Marzoug al-Najjar’s home, also destroyed; it is not known how many people lived there. 12) Beside Fuad lived Fathi al-Najjar, 40, his wife and seven children. 13) Next to Fathi, Tariq Ibrahim Marzuq al-Najjar, 38, lived with his wife and six children in one apartment of a single-story building he shared with Muhammad al-Najjar and his wife and three children. 14) Ismail Marzuq al-Najjar’s home, next to Tariq’s home, was destroyed; Human Rights Watch does not know how many people lived there.  15) Closer to the street, Nabil Ibrahim Muhammad al-Najjar, 41, lived with his wife and five children, aged six months to nine years, in a concrete home. 16) Ibrahim Ismail al-Najjar, 40, and his wife and six children lived on the ground floor of a multi-story building.  Yasir Ismail al-Najjar, 35, his wife and six children lived on the second floor; and Wa’el Ismail, 23, his wife and two children lived on the third floor.

[227] Human Rights Watch interview with Nabil al-Najjar, Khoza’a, April 19, 2009.

[228] Human Rights Watch, White Flag Deaths, p. 17.

[229]In most cases Human Rights Watch investigated, Israeli forces destroyed property with bulldozers or anti-tank mines.  However, in one other case, roughly 100 meters from Thabit’s home, which was damaged by what he said was a tank shell, Israeli aerial attacks destroyed an ornate, five-story home belonging to Ismail Abd el-Atif Jarghon.  Human Rights Watch observed a hole in the roof of the collapsed structure, and through it, could see a larger hole in the floor of the top story, indicating that an aerial bomb may have been dropped with a delayed fuse in order to detonate inside the house.  Human Rights Watch was unable to determine the date of the attacks, which residents said occurred prior to the ground invasion. Hamada Jarghon, 40, said he worked at the building on behalf of his uncle, its owner, who lives in the United Arab Emirates and had not yet occupied the building.  “He started to build it in 2005.  The construction cost $750,000.”  According to Hamada, his uncle owned two homes, this one and another in Khan Yunus city. “The [Israeli] Shabak [Shin Bet] called my uncle’s house in the city and told us to evacuate, but we didn’t know which one.  So we evacuated that one.  Then they hit this one.” Human Rights Watch had insufficient information on which to determine whether the attack was lawful or not, such as whether the destroyed building had suffered from secondary explosions caused by the presence of weapons stored by militants.

[230] Moving east from the intersection, the homes belonged to: 1) the Abu Akil family (four people);  2) the al-Amor family (the number of residents is not known); 3) Jihad Muhammad Slaam Abu Ataya, 30, and his wife and child; 4) Imad Salam Abu Attaya, his wife and two children; 5) Muhammad Suleiman Abu Attaya, his wife and four children; 6) Nahed Abu Attaya, his wife and four children; 7) Fayok Attaya, 26, and his wife; 8) Salama attaya and his wife and 28 year-old son, with 2-year-old grandson; 9) Meliha Attaya, 65, a widow, with two unmarried sons, 24 and 33, and four unmarried daughters; 10) a home that was not inhabited, owned by two unmarried brothers, Nazif and Badr Attaya; and  12) the home of Talal Abu Attaya, his wife and their eight children.

[231] Human Rights Watch interview with Zenam Salim Attaya, al-Shoka, April 16, 2009.

[232] Human Rights Watch interview with Nahed Attaya, al-Shoka, April 16, 2009.

[233] Human Rights Watch interview with Zenam Salim Attaya, al-Shoka, April 16, 2009.

[234] Human Rights Watch interview with Talal Attaya, al-Shoka, April 16, 2009.

[235] Nahed Attaya’s home was located at 31°16'55.38"N / 34°18'44.40"E.

[236] From the corner of the block, houses belonging to the following people were destroyed: 1) Rami Adel Musa al-Amor, 19, owned a one story home that had just taken delivery of furniture for his upcoming wedding; 2) Adel Musa Amira al-Amor, 42, his wife, son and two girls; 3) Soni Ahmad Atiya, 25, and his wife; 4) Salim Jumaa Ataya, 40, his wife and three children; 5) Tamam Ataya, a 70 year old widow, and her adult daughter.  To the east of Tamam’s house, other destroyed homes in the compound belonged to: 6) Aisha Jumaa Ataya, a 30 or 35 year old widow; 7) Rasmiya Hmad Ataya, 48, a widow, and her eight children; 8) Iman Atiya Ataya, 30, a widow and her two children; 9) Faour Ahmad Ataya, 60, his wife, and nine children; and 10) a two story building with Aliya Atayya, 25, and her four children on one floor, and Talal Atayya, his wife and five children on the other.  Moving from the corner of the compound where Rami Adel al-Amor’s home was, along the road to the east, other destroyed homes were inhabited by: 11) Ghada Muhammad Amor, a widow, and her child; 12) a large building owned by Muhammad Musa al Amor, 52. Families there included a) Ahmad Atayya, his four sisters, two brothers, and mother; b) Ahmad’s brother Imad, 26, his wife and two children; and c) Majid Muhammad, 24, and his wife.

[237] Human Rights Watch interview with Ahmed Attaya, al-Shoka, April 16, 2009.

[238] Human Rights Watch interview with Muhammad Abu Daqqa, al-Shoka, April 16, 2009.

[239] Human Rights Watch interview with Sleiman Sulaiman al-Amor, al-Fokhari, April 16, 2009.

[240] For example, the destroyed home of Hani Muhammed al-Amor was located at 31°17'7.58"N / 34°18'52.89"E.

[241] Human Rights Watch interview with Sleiman Sulaiman al-Amor, al-Fokhari, April 16, 2009.

[242] According to Sulaiman Muhammad Atwa al-Amor, 35, the driver of a cement mixer at the Abu Taha cement factory, Ashraf Muhammad al-Amor, 30, and Ahmad Atwa al-Amor, buildings belonging to the following members of the family were destroyed: 1) Sulaiman al-Amor’s two story home, where he lived with his wife and five children.  2) Yasir al-Amor, his wife and five children. 3) Sulaiman’s mother, Hijer Sulaiman al-Amor, 60, and her younger daughter. 4) A two-story building where Ashraf Muhammad al-Amor, 30,his wife and four children lived on the first floor, and his second wife and two children lived on the second floor.  5) Atwa Ahmad al-Amor, 30, his wife and three children. 6) Anwar Ahmad al-Amor, 33, his wife and four children. 7) Abdallah Abd al-Majid al-Amor, 33, in a corrugated-metal construction home with his wife and six children. 8) Ahmad Atwa al-Amor, 50, his wife, and three other relatives. 9) Abd al-Majid Atwa al Amor, 40, his wife and eight children. 10) Hani Muhammad al-Amor, his wife and six children.

[243] Human Rights Watch interview with Atwa al-Amor, al-Fokhari, April 16, 2009.

[244] The Abu Sita factory is located at 31°16'57.54"N / 34°18'54.48"E.

[245] The first building housed four families: Iyad as-Seidi, his wife and two daughters; Ibrahim as-Seidi, his wife and child; Ibrahim as-Seidi, his wife and children; and Hamouda as-Seidi, his wife and daughter. Seid Aqil Safi and his four married sons, Hatim, Omar, Ahmad and Ayman Said Safi, lived in the second home.

[246] Human Rights Watch interview with Sulaiman Eid al-Orjan, al-Fokhari, April 16, 2009.