13 Palestinian civilians killed and dozens wounded in Israeli attack on Khan Yunis

7 October 2002

Israeli occupying forces, reinforced with heavy military vehicles and supported by attack helicopters, launched a military attack against the al-Satar al-Gharbi and al-Amal neighbourhoods in Khan Yunis overnight.

Israeli military tanks and combat helicopters intensely fired at the areas until 04:30 this morning. Twelve Palestinian civilians, including four children and a woman, were killed and more than 80 were wounded, many of whom remain in a serious condition.

Also this morning, Israeli occupying forces in military posts in the vicinity of “Neve Dekalim” settlement, west of Khan Yunis, shelled Palestinian residential areas in the town, killing one Palestinian civilian and wounding nine others. At the time of writing, the Israeli military offensive against Khan Yunis is continuing.

According to PCHR’s investigation, at approximately 23:55 on Sunday, 6 October 2002, Israeli occupying forces, reinforced with more than 40 heavy military vehicles and supported by attack helicopters, moved from military posts in the vicinity of “Gani Tal” settlement and towards al-Satar al-Gharbi area in the northwest of Khan Yunis and al-Amal neighborhood in the west of the town.

Israeli tanks and infantry units were deployed in the streets of al-Amal neighborhood. The soldiers reportedly opened fire indiscriminately. Other Israeli heavy military vehicles, jeeps and infantry units moved towards Jamal ‘Abdul Nasser Street, which links the al-Satar al-Gharbi area and the center of Khan Yunis.

From there, Israeli forces moved forward towards al-Katiba area in the north of the town, and then to the center of the town. Later, Israeli forces moved back and took up position near al-Katiba Mosque.

In al-Amal neighborhood, Israeli occupying forces were deployed near the family home of Rafe’ Salah Salama, a Palestinian activist who is allegedly wanted by Israel. When his mother, Rahima Hassan ‘Ali Salama, 50, heard Israeli soldiers in the area, she opened the door fearing that Israeli soldiers may break into the house suddenly, but an Israeli soldiers shouted at her and she shut the door.

Immediately, Israeli soldiers opened fire at the door, wounding the mother with several live bullets throughout the body, and her child Mahmoud, 15, with shrapnel. Then, Israeli soldiers broke into the house and prevented the family from offering help to the wounded. Israeli soldiers handcuffed the men in the house and detained the women in the house in one room. They remained in the house for two hours, conducting searches.

The soldiers also denied access for ambulances to the area to evacuate the wounded. The mother bled to death and the child was evacuated to hospital in a civilian car at approximately 03:30. Another Palestinian civilian, ‘Abdul Fattah ‘Ali Suleiman al-Sallout, 40, was wounded in the chest by a heavy caliber bullet fired by an Israeli attack helicopter while he was in his home in al-Amal neighborhood. He was evacuated in a civilian car to hospital, but later died of his wounds.

In the same area, an Israeli attack helicopter fired a missile at four Palestinian civilians from the Abu al-Khair family while they were on the roof of their house. The four were wounded, two of whom are in a serious condition. Children in the house narrowly escaped after shrapnel from the missile hit the room they had been sleeping in shortly before the attack. A number of neighboring houses were also damaged.

In al-Satar al-Gharbi district, at approximately 03:30, Israeli tanks positioned in al-Katiba area opened fire indiscriminately, killing 18-year-old Jamal Fathi Muhareb with several live bullets in the neck and the chest.

Approximately 20 minutes later, Israeli heavy military vehicles started pulling back towards the aforementioned settlement. Soon, dozens of Palestinian civilians exited their houses to check what happened in their area. When they gathered at a junction, an Israeli attack helicopter fired a missile towards the group, killing 9 civilians, including 4 children. More than 50 people were wounded, 10 critically. Those killed were:

1. Mohammed Hassan al-Astal, 15, killed by shrapnel throughout the body;
2. ‘Abdullah Walid Salah, 16, killed by shrapnel throughout the body;
3. Ahmed ‘Abdul Ra’ouf al-Astal, 16, killed by shrapnel throughout the body;
4. Fares ‘Abdul Nasser Daoud al-Zaqzouq, 17, killed by shrapnel in the head;
5. Haitham Mousa Abu al-Naja, 27, killed by shrapnel throughout the body;
6. Ussama Mohammed ‘Ali ‘Aabdin, 23, killed by shrapnel throughout the body;
7. Eihab Helmi Dhib Khalaf, 22, killed by shrapnel throughout the body;
8. Ayman Mohammed Saqer, 35, killed by shrapnel throughout the body; and
9. Mohammed Mustafa Sadiq, 20, killed by shrapnel throughout the body.

Also this morning, at approximately 07:00, Israeli occupying forces in military locations in the vicinity of “Neve Dekailm” settlement, west of Khan Yunis, shelled Khan Yunis refugee camp and al-Nimsawi and Baten al-Samin neighborhoods, killing 23-year-old Mohammed Farhan Shaloula with a live bullet in the back, and wounding 9 others, one critically.

PCHR strongly condemns these latest attacks against the Palestinian civilian population. PCHR considers that the failure and silence of the international community towards ongoing Israeli war crimes serves to encourage Israel and its occupying forces to continue in its actions. PCHR reiterates its call upon the international community to put an end to its silence and immediately intervene to protect Palestinian civilians, to put an end to Israel’s total disregard for the international law. PCHR also reminds the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 of their legal obligations under the Convention to ensure respect for the Convention, including through searching for and prosecuting those responsible for grave breaches of the Convention.