Gaza: Justice for murdered Palestinian human right defenders and their families


In the past week, two staff members of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) have been killed along with 46 members of their families in Israeli strikes. The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) mourns their passing and pledges to take action against those responsible for their death.

29 February 2024. “We all have this piece inside us that is broken and will never be repaired,” said Basel al-Sourani, legal researcher at PCHR, when he was informing FIDH on the circumstances of the killing of Nour Naser Abu Al-Nour and Dana Yaghi and their families. Bombing and killing, kidnapping and torture, starvation and forced displacement, are the experiences of staff members in Gaza from human rights organisations member of FIDH. The physical and psychological toll is immense. Since the start of the Israeli attacks, most have lost relatives and loved ones, and all of them are struggling for their survival. With the killing of Nour Abu Nour and Dana Yaghi, tragedy has struck at the heart of FIDH’s member organisations.

On 20 February Nour Naser Abu Al-Nour and seven of her family members were killed by an Israeli airstrike on her family house in Rafah, south of the Gaza Strip. Those killed included her two-year-old daughter, her mother, her father who was Dean of the Faculty of Nursing at the Islamic University in Gaza, and her sisters and brother. Only a few days later, on 24 February, Dana Yaghi along with 39 others, a majority of whom were members of her family, were killed in the bombing of her family’s house in Deir Al-Balah. Both Dana and Nour were lawyers at the Women’s Rights Unit of PCHR, both had been displaced.

They documented human rights violations against women and children and provided legal and self-care advice to women. Women have been disproportionate victims of Israeli aggression in the Gaza Strip among the reported 30 000 dead and 70 000 wounded. Sexual and reproductive rights have been negated along with every other form of human rights of Palestinians in the genocide perpetrated against them by Israel.

“We will not stop looking for justice for the killing of Nour and Dana and their families. Those who ordered and those who fired the airstrikes that killed them must be held accountable. Every killing of civilians in Gaza deserves accountability and prosecution”, said Clémence Bectarte, human rights lawyer and coordinator of FIDH’s Litigation Action Group.

Human rights defenders in Gaza have become victims themselves

Of the seven FIDH Palestinian and Israeli member organisations, four have staff members operating in the Gaza Strip: Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), Al-Haq, and B’Tselem. In total, before the latest Israeli offensive on Gaza began, around three dozen human rights defenders affiliated with FIDH were working there. Since 7 October 2023, they have been caught in the whirlwind of human catastrophe that has swept the enclave. Many of them are descendents of Palestinian refugees from 1948, all lived under apartheid. As human rights defenders, they went from documenting human rights violations and speaking out for victims, to becoming the targets of attacks themselves.

In December 2023, Ayman Lubbad, a researcher in the Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights Unit at PCHR was illegally detained from 7 to 14 December, amid the mass arrests of Palestinians perpetrated by invading Israeli forces. He spent most of his detention handcuffed and blindfolded, kept in pain on his knees for entire days, whilst being starved, deprived of sleep, beaten, and interrogated — actions amounting to ill-treatment and torture under international humanitarian law and human rights law.

Despite these awful conditions and the potential threat of direct targeting by the Israeli military, human rights defenders in Gaza attempt to carry out their work, and document the ongoing human rights violations too numerous to cover in their entirety.

FIDH urges for conditions allowing human rights organisations to be able to fully carry out their work and where evidence of human rights violations is prevented from being destroyed. The United Nations must be allowed to reach the North of the Gaza Strip, where no humanitarian aid is distributed and where many human rights violations are likely going on undocumented and unreported.

FIDH calls for an immediate ceasefire as well as accountability for the international crimes committed.

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