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Physicians for Human Rights–Israel Publishes a First Experts Report on Operation Protective Edge

This evening sees the publication of “No Safe Place”, the first report on the events of Operation Protective Edge, written by eight renowned international medical experts. The report was written following a request by Physicians for Human Rights–Israel (PHR-IL) in order to determine the scope of destruction in body and spirit. It is the only report written by an independent international body granted a permit from Israeli authorities to enter the Gaza Strip during the war.

The report is based on 68 testimonies from people injured in the Gaza Strip (interviewed in Gaza and in hospitals in the West Bank, Israel, and Jordan), analysis of 370 photos of corpses, interviews with 9 Palestinian medical professionals, and review of dozens of medical files. The delegation members conducted three visits in the Gaza Strip: one in the course of the fighting and two after it had ceased. The work of the delegation was coordinated by three Palestinian human rights organizations from the Gaza Strip, whose staff accompanied the delegation during their visit. Delegation members also met with three Israeli doctors who participated in providing medical care to soldiers and residents of the South of Israel in the course of the fighting.

A delegation of international medical experts who visited the Gaza Strip during the operation finds:

The failure of the warning mechanisms, the absence of escape routes, the collapse of the mechanism for evacuating the wounded, and the strikes against rescue teams increased the number of civilian casualties

Failures and Lack of Consistency in the Warning of Citizens of Impending Strikes (Warning Mechanisms)

Absence of escape routes: The report concludes that warnings by the Israeli army, which included phone calls, flyers, or the “Knock on the Roof” procedure, were inefficient, and the early warning system was inconsistent. Out of 68 injured interviewees, only 7% (5) reported having received early warnings from the army, and two testimonies reported warnings not followed by any attacks. In cases in which witnesses testified that they had received a warning before an attack, no safety measures were provided to allow for their safe evacuation, such as evacuation routes and destinations protected from shelling.

Damage to residential buildings: According to additional testimonies, some of the people who fled their homes were later killed in the homes of relatives or inside UNRWA schools. 49% (33) of the injured interviewees were injured in or near their home, 14% (10) were injured in the home of a relative where they had sought refuge, 7% (5) were injured while evacuating their homes, and 3% (2) were injured inside UNRWA facilities.

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