Ongoing War Crimes: Israel Targets Journalists, Aid Workers, Civilians in Gaza

Gaza Strip, Palestine — With the brutal war on Gaza raging on, Israel committed several more documented war crimes and atrocities by bombing journalists, aid workers, hospitals and civilians in late March and early April. These crimes against humanity are added to the list of actions that Israel has taken that are deemed ‘plausible’ acts of genocide with their widespread bombings and collective punishment on the Palestinian people since the Hamas-led attacks against Israel on October 7, 2023.

As of Friday, April 12, an estimated 46,000 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed by Israel with over 33,634 Palestinians reported dead according to Al Jazeera and over 13,000 missing under the rubble of bombed out buildings or buried in mass graves, according to the Euro Med Human Rights Monitor. Palestinians in the occupied West Bank have also been victim to an increased amount of violence over the last six months by Israeli forces and extremist settlers who have taken part in nearly 700 attacks on Palestinians, killing over 440 Palestinians.

Unicorn Riot heard from a few Palestinians directly impacted by Israeli violence; including a man looking for his brother’s and nephew’s remains and a doctor at Al-Shifa Hospital who spoke after Israeli forces withdrew from a two week-long siege; the director of Abu Youssef al-Najjar Hospital who spoke about receiving the seven World Central Kitchen aid workers that were killed by Israeli bombings; and civilians and journalists who were recently bombed by Israel. See the table of contents below:

For more on Palestine, visit our landing page.

International Aid Workers Deliberately Killed by Israel

In January 2024, a preliminary ruling by the International Court of Justice found it “plausible” that Israel was committing genocide in Palestine and ruled that they must permit the flow of humanitarian aid. Since the court’s statement, Israel has continued to block aid and target and kill aid workers while openly using food and starvation as a weapon of war.

One of the most high-profile killings of humanitarians during the first six months caused a brief outcry in the corporate news cycle earlier in April, when Israeli forces deliberately targeted aid workers with a trio of precision bombings, killing seven humanitarians working with World Central Kitchen (WCK), six of whom were from international countries.

These killings are among numerous attacks on aid workers and humanitarians in Gaza, where over 220 aid workers have been killed, 95% of them Palestinian.

Displaced Palestinian civilians seeking aid have also been killed by the dozens by Israeli forces whether at checkpoints, roundabouts, or simply being near aid trucks. Others have been killed directly from air dropped aid packages that had parachutes fail to open up and struck people on the ground.

Related: Starving Palestinians in Gaza Scramble for Aid Drops – March 20, 2024

Related: Resisting Starvation in Gaza – March 18, 2024

The seven humanitarians killed during the targeted Israeli drone strikes on WCK on April 1 include Palestinian translator Saifeddin Issam Ayad Abutaha (25), aid worker Lalzawmi “Zomi” Frankcom (43) of Australia, aid worker Damian Soból (35) of Poland, and security provider Jacob Flickinger (33) a dual citizen of the U.S. and Canada, and from Britain, WCK security team members John Chapman (57) and James Henderson (33), and private security guard James Kirby (47).

World Central Kitchen CEO Erin Gore said in a statement released after the killing, “this is not only an attack against WCK, this is an attack on humanitarian organizations showing up in the most dire of situations where food is being used as a weapon of war. This is unforgivable.”

Created in 2010 to serve prepared meals in zones of crisis, the World Central Kitchen was recently propelled into action in Gaza after Israel accused the enclave’s main aid agency, United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), of working with Hamas during the October 7 attacks and restricted UNWRA from providing assistance in Gaza.

The Gaza Strip is a 25-mile long stretch of Mediterranean coastal land that has been under a complete land, air, and sea blockade by Israel since Hamas won Palestinian elections and took power in 2007. UNWRA has been mandated by the United Nations General Assembly to serve Palestinian refugees since the Nakba, or the 1948 Palestine war, when over 750,000 Palestinians were forcibly displaced from their homelands to make way for the state of Israel. UNWRA has built extensive networks throughout Palestine and Israel to distribute food, medicine, and basic services to Palestinians.

After Israel’s accusations against UNWRA, the United States suspended its funding. Last year, the U.S. contributed $422 million to UNWRA, nearly 30 percent of the relief agency’s budget.

Over the last six months, UNWRA workers, buildings, vehicles, and infrastructure has been repeatedly bombed by Israel. UNWRA reports that over 400 Palestinians have been killed while sheltering at United Nations facilities internationally recognized to be safe zones.

Workers with WCK had worked directly with Israeli forces for many weeks, providing their coordinates for each route and delivery, including the night their workers were targeted and killed. Despite this, WCK aid workers have been directly targeted at least two other times by Israel. WCK ceased its operations after the deadly attack, which has broad implications with Israel blocking aid from being distributed.

Israeli forces claim to have fired two soldiers and reprimanded three others for the killings and the army’s social media account expressed “condolences” to WCK, calling their work “critical.” WCK called for an independent investigation into the killing along with United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who called for an investigation into all the aid workers killed by Israel.

Two days after the seven WCK aid workers were killed, Dr. Marwan Al-Hams assisted in facilitating the return of the bodies of six of the internationals through the Rafah crossing. Dr. Al-Hams is the head of Rafah’s health emergency committee and Director of Abu Youssef Al-Najjar Hospital in Rafah. He told Unicorn Riot that the aid workers were martyrs of “humanitarian duty” and said they were “targeted by the Israeli occupation forces.”

“We mourn the loss of six humanitarian workers. Three of them are British, one is American, one is Australian, and one is Polish. They are the humanitarian duty martyrs. They were targeted by the Israeli occupation forces yesterday, and today, we bid them farewell as we facilitate their return to their respective families through the Rafah crossing, with the assistance of a United Nations organization.”

Dr. Marwan Al-Hams

Dr. Al-Hams said since the WCK ceased their operations, the situation is “very dire for all the displaced people, and also for the workers, and the patients at [Al-Najjar Hospital].”

Israel Kills International Aid Workers, Over 220 Humanitarians in Six Months of War on Gaza from Unicorn Riot.

Israel Leaves up to 1,500 Dead at Shifa Hospital Massacre

Mass graves are being found adding to the 422 bodies recovered on the grounds of Al-Shifa Hospital after Israel’s army withdrew from their second siege on Gaza’s largest medical complex.

At least 22 patients were killed in their hospital beds during the two week siege which began on March 18. The hospital was one of the last remaining functioning hospitals and was used as a refuge for thousands of displaced civilians along with hundreds of patients.

Doctor Speaks on Two-Week Israeli Siege on Shifa Hospital from Unicorn Riot.

The Euro-Med Monitor, who had team members on the ground during and after the raid, estimates upwards of 1,500 people were killed by Israel. Civilians are reported to have been killed and ran over by Israeli tanks. Videos surfaced showing the decomposing body parts of Palestinians protruding from the ground, including bodies that appeared executed with their hands tied behind their back.

“The documented crimes were perpetrated against civilians including women, children, elderly people, displaced people, medical professionals, and sick and wounded people,” reported the Euro-Med Monitor.

Israel claims it raided the hospital targeting Hamas fighters. Hamas and medical personnel at Shifa deny fighters were using the hospital. Videos released by Palestinian fighters showed they put up heavy resistance to Israeli forces from buildings around the hospital. Israel claims to have arrested 900 suspects, with 500 reported to be terror operatives, and killed more than 200 fighters while stealing over $3 million in different currencies.

After being blocked six previous attempts to visit the hospital, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced findings from their preliminary assessment stating the hospital was left in ruins, “the scale of devastation has left the facility completely non-functional, further reducing access to life-saving health care in Gaza.”

“Most hospital buildings, including the emergency department, the surgical and maternity ward buildings, and the neonatal intensive care department were extensively damaged or burnt, along with most of the equipment, beds, incubators, the oxygen plant, and other assets.”

United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) update, April 8, 2024

On the day that Israeli forces left, Palestinians flocked to the hospital to find their loved ones. Unicorn Riot heard from a man sifting through the dirt looking for his brother and nephew. “I’m looking for my brother, but I can’t seem to find him. The tanks have passed through here, and I can’t find either my brother or my nephew. You can see the tank tracks here.”

“We’ve been here digging in the ground since 3 o’clock and we still can’t find him, as you see… We’re digging and retrieving corpses one by one. If it’s not our brother, we bury it again. We’re also searching for our nephew, but we can’t find him either.”

Palestinian man searching for his dead relatives in the courtyard of Al-Shifa Hospital

Palestinian Families Seek Bodies of Relatives After Israel Withdraws From Shifa Hospital Massacre from Unicorn Riot.

Israel Bombs Journalists and Displaced Palestinians Outside Al-Aqsa Hospital

Before the noon prayers on Sunday morning, March 31, 2024 in the central Gazan city of Deir el-Balah, an Israeli air strike hit a tent camp housing hundreds of displaced Palestinians outside of the Al-Aqsa Hospital. The strike killed at least four people and wounded at least 17 others, seven of whom were Palestinian journalists.

Journalists injured by the bombing say the strike hit displaced citizens and other journalists in the area. Israel says it was targeting a command center of the armed Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

In the first six months of Israel’s war on Gaza, at least 105 journalists have been killed by Israel, with at 22 being killed as they were reporting, according to Reporters Without Borders. Inside Gaza, the media office said the number of journalists killed could be higher than 140 as of April 13.

Journalists and their families have routinely been targeted for assassination by Israel, who has mainly used air strikes and drones to carry out the killings.

After one month of war, Unicorn Riot contributor Mohamed el Saife shared his experience of having Israel bomb his home and fleeing with his family. “I lost my house. I lost my memories. I lost everything that I built and everything that I have.”

Mohamed is a Palestinian journalist who has been based in Gaza for the last nine years and contributing media from the frontlines of Palestinian territories to Unicorn Riot since 2021.

Al Jazeera’s bureau chief Wael al-Dahdouh had his wife and two children killed in October by Israel, was himself bombed by a drone that killed his work partner in December and in January his son and two other journalists were killed by another Israeli airstrike. Al-Dahdouh is recovering from his injuries and has vowed to return to the field to document when he is well.

The March 31 air strike on the tent camp outside Al-Aqsa Hospital and the aftermath was documented as there were dozens of journalists using the space, including videographers filming for Unicorn Riot. See a short video from after the air strike below.

Israeli Air Strike on Hospital Camp Kills 4, Injures 17, including 7 Journalists from Unicorn Riot.

Palestinians’ Share Their Thoughts on the UN Ceasefire Resolution and Israel Invading Rafah

On March 25, the United Nations passed a ceasefire resolution on Gaza for the month of Ramadan calling on a cessation of violence and returning of the Israeli captives held in Gaza. The resolution was not honored. Sharing their thoughts with Unicorn Riot, three Palestinians spoke about the resolution and if they thought Israel would invade Rafah.

“Israel does not care at all. If it cared even a little bit,” said Talal Hamdan, “none of these pogroms and massacres would have occurred. All the terrible things happening to the children, such as starvation, the political tactics of depriving people of food, and the threats to Rafah, and so on. If there were a binding decision on Israel, this wouldn’t be happening.”

Hamdan said Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “remains adamant on invading Rafah” and questioned why. “Can’t you [Netanyahu] see that in Rafah, there are approximately 1.5 million displaced persons? Where will people go? And after Rafah, where would people go? Is this some sort of forced displacement? Because we need to understand. This is what the Jews want, and we refuse to be displaced.”

Mutee Abu Qamar told Unicorn Riot that he believed Rafah would be invaded by Israeli forces at some point: “I doubt any political leader would continue discussing something without realizing its full implications, and thus, the military invasion on Rafah, in my opinion, is just a matter of time.” He said Palestinians were “entitled to the ceasefire” ordered by the UN and hoped the resolution doesn’t end up like “dozens of decisions related to the Palestinian cause have not been implemented.”

“May God protect Rafah and the people of Rafah,” said Rizk Qannan. Qannan spoke from southern Gaza and voiced pessimism over the resolution, “I do not believe that any decisions made by the Security Council will bind Israel to anything.”

Palestinian Children and Civilians Speak of Being Bombed and Displaced

Since Israel’s invasion of Gaza, over 1.7 million Palestinians have been forcibly moved to the south of Gaza where the bombings are unceasing. On March 19, a Palestinian youth who is displaced with his family in Gaza and traveling south in the midst of violent Israeli bombardment shared his traumatic story about being awakened and forced to leave. He said Israeli forces took all the man away in their tanks after stripping and blindfolding them.

“When they started shelling, we were still asleep. We were attempting to have our Suhur, but we couldn’t. We still haven’t eaten until now. The shelling persisted, and then a shell struck our home. And then they barged in, shooting at us. We did not know how to get out. Then they took us out, took the men, stripped and blindfolded them, and then loaded them into their tanks.”

Youth displaced in Gaza

The next day, on March 20, while going through the rubble of her home in the southern city of Rafah, elder Al-Saeed Al-Ghafry spoke about the bombing that occurred the night before and finding her son “safely protected by God.”

For more from Palestine click on link below.

Follow us on X (aka Twitter), Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo, Instagram, Mastodon, Threads, BlueSky and Patreon.

Please consider a tax-deductible donation to help sustain our horizontally-organized, non-profit media organization: supportourworknew