Several members of the family were in Yasser Al Qassas's home, on the top floor of the family's three-story house. Yasser and his wife, Summay had received relatives from Al Qassas and Siyam families, including his mother-in-law, who became internally displaced persons (IDP). These families were living in the Al Zeitoun area, which was under IOF attacks and had received orders from the IOF to evacuate.
The family and their guests were in the house when a heavy missile, fired by an Israeli aircraft, hit the house directly, devastating the home and the families within. No one knows why the house was attack. There were no military activities in the house and no one is known to be affiliated with resistance groups. No warning was given to the family, who bitterly gave an account to Al Mezan of the ten civilians they lost - six children and three women in total.
The attack on the Al Qassas family continues the trend where airstrikes hit houses with the residents inside; often without warning. Mostly children and women are killed and injured in these types of attacks; including dozens of IDPs.
Al Mezan interviewed members of the Al Qassas family, who stated that the attack occurred at approximately 3:50 pm on Monday, 21 July 2014. Their understanding is that Israeli aircraft fired a heavy missile at the apartment, which is located on the top floor of the family's house on the Al Thalatheeni Street in the Al Sabra neighborhood, south of Gaza City. The attack resulted in the killing of ten people, including six children and three women and the injury to four. The victims who lost their lives in the attack have been identified as:
- Alyaa Yousef Siyam, 35, who is a relative from Al Zeiutoun neighborhood;
- Fayza Siyam, 68, Yasser's mother-in-law, and grandmother of the children below;
- Sumayya Al Qassas, 32, Fayza's daughter and Yasser's wife;
- Islam Yasser Al Qassas, 15, Yasser and Sumayya's daughter;
- Arwa Yasser Al Qassas, 4, Yasser and Sumayya's daughter;
- Samar Yasser Al Qassas, 3, Yasser and Sumayya's daughter;
- Israa' Yasser Al Qassas, 7, Yasser and Sumayya's daughter;
- Nesma Iyad Al Qassas, 10, Yasser's cousin's daughter;
- Lamya Iyad Al Qassas, 13, Yasser's cousin's daughter; and
- Mohammed Zakariya Al Qassas, 4, Sumayya's nephew.
The four who were injured included two children and one woman.
This type of attack, where a house is directly targeted, represents one of the most flagrant violations of international law committed by the IOF during the on-going military operation in the Gaza Strip. Similar attacks have occurred regularly throughout the operation and have claimed the lives of hundreds of people. According to Al Mezan's monitoring, at least 311 (52.1%; 118 children and 73 women) were killed inside their houses as of 1pm on Tuesday, 22 July 2014; the vast majority of whom were killed in similar attacks. Of the 311, fifteen were combatants and the rest were civilians.
Al Mezan stresses that the mere presence of a person who might be qualified as a combatant does not alter the status of a civilian target. An attack on a civilian target is a serious violation of international law that cannot be legitimized under any circumstances. These attacks must be investigated promptly and credibly and those who ordered or committed them must be held to account.
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