Civilian Casualties

Civilian Casualties

Incident Code

ISPT060

Incident date

May 14, 2021

Location

البلعي, Al Bal’i, the Gaza Strip

Geolocation

31.539125, 34.535645 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Nearby landmark level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

Over 50 civilians were injured in a heavy aerial bombardment of Beit Hanoun by Israeli forces on May 14th, 2021, multiple sources reported.

While all other sources only reported injuries, one source @QudsNen, reported four deaths but it seems that this is likely referring to the over deaths in North Gaza. No further information was provided on the alleged deaths and a quote from resident Mohammed al-Zoni provided to Al Jazeera specifically mentions that no one was killed in the attack.

There was also not much information on who was injured, although multiple sources report that women and children were among the wounded.

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights reported that a heavy bombardment began at around midnight and lasted two hours, with three places targeted, including Beit Hanoun. The al-Ba’li Street in Beit Hanoun was especially hit, it said. Al Jazeera reported that an “entire residential area in Beit Hanoun was devastated”.

While not confirming this specific incident, the Israeli Defence Forces did release a statement saying that an operation of 160 aircraft had “struck over 150 underground targets in the northern Gaza Strip” over the course of the night. Beit Hanoun is in northern Gaza. Alongside airstrikes, hundreds of artillery shells and dozens of tank shells were fired, it said. The statement added that the purpose of the operation was to damage underground tunnels built by Hamas.

Speaking to Al Jazeera, Mohammed al-Zoni, a resident of the area hit, said that as many as 30 houses were destroyed and “Everything that has to do with life has been destroyed,” he said. “Cars, carts, fields … everything.” No warning was given prior to the assault.

Taher al-Kafarneh, 68, gave the Guardian the following account detailing the chaos. He says he was sheltering in a house with about 150 people at the time:  “At about midnight, the intense bombardment began with rockets from each side in addition to artillery, and the street was bombed with violent and continuous missiles.” It is unclear if he means from around the vicinity or from both Palestinian forces and Israeli sources when he mentions “rockets from each side”.

He continues: “A shell from a plane or artillery … I don’t know … hit the last floor of the house, in which some of my children and their children stayed, and the electricity of the house was cut off … Everyone was screaming. About 40 to 50 people from the house were injured from the bombing, and we escaped on foot, until ambulances arrived. Even then they could not reach the house because of bombing in the street. So people started carrying the injured.”

Haitham al-Kafarneh, another resident who may be from the same family as the man quoted in the Guardian article, said to Wafa news that an Israeli reconnaissance plane fired a missile near his house to force its residents to evacuate.

Al Watan voice reported the use of naval boats, alongside artillery shelling and airstrikes. No other source reported naval involvement, but there were other mentions of artillery shelling.

The incident occured around midnight.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike and/or Artillery
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    0 – 4
  • Civilians reported injured
    40–51
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Suspected attacker
    Israeli Military

Sources (29) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (11) [ collapse]

  • Image from the scene of the heavy bombardment in Beit Hanoun on May 14th, 2021. (Image posted by @ShehabAgency)
  • Image from the scene of the heavy bombardment in Beit Hanoun on May 14th, 2021. Up to 50 injuries were reported. (Image posted by @ShehabAgency)
  • The damage to a building hit during a reportedly heavy night of bombing. (Image posted by @ShehabAgency)
  • A residential area in Beit Hanoun sustained significant damage around midnight on May 14th, 2021. (Image shared by @a014576)
  • A residential area in Beit Hanoun sustained significant damage around midnight on May 14th, 2021. Up to 50 injuries were reported. (Image shared by @a014576)
  • Image shows the damage caused to a residential area in Beit Hanoun at midnight on May 14th, 2021. (Image posted by Al Watan voice)
  • Translated image caption: Beit Hanoun in Gaza this morning...families are homeless and they're starting their morning trying to find their family members under the rubble. (Image posted by @itsnotsuhad)
  • Translated image caption: Beit Hanoun in Gaza this morning...families are homeless and they're starting their morning trying to find their family members under the rubble. (Image posted by @itsnotsuhad)
  • Video showing the destroyed area. (Vide posted by @ShehabAgency)
  • Video showing destruction to the area. (Video shared by @MuathHumaid)
  • Video of the area hit in the May 14th, 2021 reportedly heavy Israeli bombardment of Beit Hanoun. (Video posted by Al Ghad TV)

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention the Al Bal’i (البلعي) area, allegedly within the town of Beit Hanoun (بيت حانون‎). Extensive damage to the area visible from satellite imagery suggests that a possible location for this strike is at these coordinates: 31.539125, 34.535645. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

Israeli Military Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    Israeli Military
  • Israeli Military position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike and/or Artillery
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    0 – 4
  • Civilians reported injured
    40–51
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Suspected attacker
    Israeli Military

Sources (29) [ collapse]