On 5 August, Israeli authorities struck the home of Tayseer al-Jabari, an Islamic Jihad leader, without clear provocation. Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid cited an “imminent threat” posed by Islamic Jihad following Israel’s arrest of and apparent mistreatment several days earlier of another Islamic Jihad leader in the West Bank, Bassam al-Saadi.
At least 49 Palestinians in Gaza were killed, including 17 children, during Israeli strikes and Palestinian rocket attacks between 5 and 7 August, according to the Palestinian health ministry in Gaza. The rockets lobbed by Islamic Jihad towards Israel appear to have caused some damage there and no Israeli casualties.
Human rights groups are investigating the events, and it will take some time before we have a full accounting of what took place. But there are some preliminary observations based on our years of documenting previous rounds of hostilities in Gaza.
Real and virtual siege
Third, Israeli authorities’ sealing of the crossings into Gaza between 2 and 7 August parallels similar measures made in prior flare-ups. Human Rights found these to be punitive and to constitute collective punishment - a war crime. The move blocked the movement of people and goods, including the fuel necessary to run Gaza’s sole power plant, and blocked Gaza residents in need of urgent medical care from getting treatment outside Gaza.
In fact, Gaza’s power plant shut down on 6 August due to the lack of fuel, leaving families with about four hours of electricity a day amid a sweltering summer. Chronic prolonged power outages encumber everyday life, in particular for people with disabilities who rely on light to communicate using sign language or equipment powered by electricity, such as elevators or electric wheelchairs, to move.
These restrictions aggravated the already crushing impact of the Gaza closure, which Israel has imposed for more than 15 years. Israel’s sweeping restrictions on the movement of people and goods, often exacerbated by Egyptian restrictions on its border with Gaza, rob the more than 2.1 million Palestinians of Gaza of their right to freedom of movement, have devastated the economy, and form part of Israeli authorities’ crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution against millions of Palestinians.
Fourth, the Palestinian digital rights group 7amleh reported again that social media companies were taking down posts by Palestinians and pro-Palestinian activists about events on the ground. Human Rights Watch last year documented how Facebook wrongfully removed and suppressed similar content, including about human rights abuses carried out in Israel and Palestine during the May 2021 hostilities.