Palestinians inspecting a bridge destroyed by Israeli army warplanes on a main road in the northern Gaza Strip, June 28, 2006. (MaanImages/Wesam Saleh)
PCHR strongly condemns IOF retaliatory measures targeting Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip, including the destruction of properties that are not classified as a legitimate military targets. The Centre calls upon the international community, particularly the High Contracting Parties of the Fourth Geneva Convention, to force IOF to respect the convention, which prohibits reprisals against protected persons, as stipulated in article 33. In addition, the convention prohibits the destruction of private properties belonging to individuals, groups, organizations or official bodies. The Centre calls upon the High Contracting Parties to enforce article 3 regarding adherence to the convention and respect of its stipulations, and to take appropriate sanctions against the serious violations currently being perpetrated.
PCHR’s preliminary investigation indicates that at approximately 01:45 on Tuesday, 27 June 2006, IOF conducted a number of air raids using fighter jets and helicopter gunships on civilian installations in the Gaza Strip. The raids completely destroyed two bridges on the Gaza Valley, one on Salah El-Deen Road and the other on the coastal road. These two bridges connect the northern part of the Strip with the center and south. A secondary bridge was also destroyed. Transportation to and from the north of the Strip has been completely cut off as a result, threatening people’s lives and security by depriving them access to health and educational institutions. The aerial bombardment also destroyed the main water pipe feeding Nuseirat and El-Bureij refugee camps. Furthermore, panic was caused among civilians, especially children and medical patients by bombardment, mock air raids and sonic booms over the Strip.
In addition, IOF planes bombarded the Gaza Strip’s only electricity generation plant, located to the north of Nuseirat refugee camp. Key sections of the plant were completely destroyed and fires broke out throughout the plant. The bombardment has cut electricity off for nearly half the population of the Gaza Strip. The bombardment destroyed the six main generators that provide 45% of the electricity needs of the Strip. Restoring the plant and resuming its operations could take up to 6 months and at a cost of approximately $15 million US.
PCHR condemns the destruction of civilian property, which is considered to be a reprisal and collective punishment against civilians. These reprisals are in retaliation to the military operation conducted by the Palestinian resistance against a military outpost near Kerem Shalom crossing on 25 June 2006. In addition, the bombardment is a continuation of the war crimes being perpetrated by IOF against civilians, including the comprehensive siege on the Gaza Strip.
PCHR calls upon the international community to provide protection for civilian lives and property, as stipulated in International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law.