47 Palestinians Injured by Blast in Beit Hanoun Home, including 19 Children and 15 Women, PCHR Demands Stringent Measures to End Recurrence of Such Accidents
Date: 23 January 2021
Time: 14:00 GMT
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights condemns in the strongest terms the blast that occurred in a household located in one of Beit Hanoun’s densely populated neighborhoods, rendering 47 Palestinian citizens injured, including women and children, and causing partial destruction in several houses and civilian establishments, including schools, a hospital and a police station.
According to PCHR investigations, at approximately 08:30 on Saturday morning, 23 January 2021, an internal explosion occurred in the home of a member of a Palestinian armed group in the center of Beit Hanoun town, northern Gaza Strip. Two families occupied the house, a total of 10 persons, including five children and three women. The explosion resulted in 47 injuries among the house’s residents and neighborhoods, including 19 children and 15 women; they were transported to Beit Hanoun Governmental Hospital, where the houseowner was deemed in a critical state. He was referred to al-Shifa Hospital for treatment. The injuries of 22 persons were classified as moderate, and the injuries of the remaining 24 were deemed minor. Additionally, the explosion caused the collapse of parts of the 2nd floor ceiling (western) where the explosion occurred; neighboring houses sustained varied damage, and windows were shattered in the Beit Hanoun Governmental Hospital, the Beit Hanoun Police Station; and 3 United Nations Works and Relief Agency (UNRWA) schools, located eastern of the explosion site. Local electric and communication networks were also damaged.
Field investigations indicate that the houseowner is a member of an armed group, and that the accident resulted from the explosion of a large-sized explosive device stored inside the house. It should be noted that the house’s surrounding area is densely populated; and it was recently rebuilt after it was completely destroyed by Israeli Occupation Forces in 2014.
Meanwhile, Eyad al-Bozzom, the Gaza Ministry of Interior spokesman, said in a press statement that an explosion occurred in a house in Beit Hanoun causing several injuries. He added that the security forces, civil defense and medical crews went to the site of the explosion immediately, and that the Ministry opened an investigation into the explosion.
PCHR stresses that the use of civilian objects to save or manufacture explosives is a clear violation of the international humanitarian law, in particular the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 and Protocol (I) to the Geneva Conventions. PCHR points out that this accident is a violation of the right to life, as stipulated in article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Right, which Palestine acceded to in April 2014. PCHR considers that the recurrence of such incidents is a threat to the right to life and puts civilians’ lives in unacceptable and unjustified danger.
PCHR regrets that this incident caused civilian casualties and expresses its solidarity and support with them and their families. PCHR reiterates that it has repeatedly warned against the danger of storing or saving explosive materials by armed groups in civilian and residential areas.
PCHR points out that this incident is not the first of its kind as it was preceded with many similar incidents over the past years that inflected dozens of causalities and destroyed many civilian houses and properties; the most prominent previous incident was when a huge explosion occurred in a house belonging to a military commander of an armed group in al-Bureij refugee camp in 2008. As a result, the leader, his wife and 3 children were killed in addition to 3 civilians from the neighboring houses, including 2 children while 60 other citizens were injured, including 23 women and 20 children.
PCHR calls upon the competent authorities to enforce stringent measures, including banning the storage of explosives in populated areas, in order to avoid the recurrence of similar tragedies and maintain civilians’ lives and their properties. PCHR emphasizes that the constant disregard for such demands alerts to further civilian causalities and portends other tragedies.