PCHR is concerned over the continued falling of Palestinian civilian casualties in the Gaza Strip as a result of the Israeli military operations that have been ongoing for over a month. The Centre calls upon the international community, especially the High Contracting Parties of the Fourth Geneva Convention, to intervene immediately and put an end to the falling of civilian casualties as a result of these operations, initiated on 25 June 2006. The Centre is extremely concerned over the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) operation that started this morning in the Shejaeya Quarter, east of Gaza City. IOF bombardment and land attacks have thus far led to the death of 11 Palestinians, including a three-year old girl, and the injury of 45 others, including seven children. In addition, two journalists from Palestine television were injured covering the events. IOF bulldozers continue their razing and destruction of agricultural lands and other civilian property in the area.
PCHR’s preliminary investigation indicates that at approximately 00:30 on Wednesday, 26 July 2006, IOF tanks, armored vehicles, and bulldozers moved one kilometer into the Gaza Strip, east of Gaza City. These forces took positions on the eastern outskirts of El-Sha’af neighborhood and El-Tuffah Quarter in Gaza City. IOF started to fire heavily at the houses of residents in the two areas. In addition, IOF drones fired rockets at Palestinian civilians and resistance activists. At approximately 05:00, an IOF drone fired a rocket at a group of people in Abu Hasanein Street in El-Sha’af neighborhood. Six people were killed, including a three-year-old girl. The victims are:
At approximately 06:30, an IOF drone fired a rocket at a group of armed Palestinians. One of them, Yaser Khamis Banat (20), was killed by shrapnel throughout his body.
At approximately 10:15, an IOF tank fired a shell at a group of armed Palestinians in the Shorafa grove, near a brick factory. Two of them were killed:
Both were killed by shrapnel that tore their bodies to pieces.
At approximately 12:30, an IOF tank fired a heavy machine gun fire at Palestinians on Salah El-Deen Road, near the 7-Up Factory. Hani Mohammad H’jeila (28) was killed by a bullet to the chest.
At approximately 12:50, an IOF drone fired a rocket at a group of Palestinians near Bahloul Petrol Station on Salah El-Deen Road. Nafith Hanouna (23) was hit directly by the rocket, and killed instantly. His body was torn to pieces.
IOF bulldozers continue to raze large tracts of agricultural land in the area. Most of the land belonged to members of the Sourani, Jadba, and Shorafa clans.
PCHR strongly condemns the IOF killing of Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip, and the destruction of their property. IOF’s disproportionate use of force places the lives of civilians at additional risk during these operations, which are a form of reprisal and collective punishment against Palestinians, a violation of Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. The Centre confirms that indiscriminate aggression will inflict additional damages on civilians and civilian property. The prior knowledge that these attacks will cause civilian casualties and destruction of their property is a violation of the convention, and a war crime in the first protocol additional to the convention.
In the Centre’s view, the complacency of the international community and the High Contracting Parties of the Fourth Geneva Convention and their failure to take effective steps to stop Israeli war crimes has been a supporting and encouraging element for Israel to continue perpetrating additional war crimes against Palestinian civilians. The legal cover provided to Israel by the US, which purposely hinders International Humanitarian Law, and the conspiracy of silence by Europe, encourage Israeli to continue to perpetrate war crimes unchecked, placing it above international law.
The Centre reminds the High Contracting Parties of:
The Centre calls upon the Swiss Government to:
The Centre calls upon the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to: