14 killed in Gaza in 24 hours

A Palestinian twin is seen in the hospital morgue after an Israeli navy vessel fired shells from the sea to a beach area in Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip June 9, 2006. Nine Palestinians, including two children, were killed in the shelling of the northern Gaza Strip’s seafront, medical sources said. (MaanImages/Wesam Saleh)

Over the past 24 hours, the Gaza Strip was the target of a deadly escalation in Israeli attacks. Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) committed a number of war crimes in the Gaza Strip, which resulted in the killing of fourteen Palestinians and the injury of thirty-six others, including thirteen children. The most severe and inhumane of these crimes was the killing of seven members of the same family (father, mother and five children), who had been enjoying a day on the beach to the west of the town of Beit Lahya. The family was hit by artillery fired from an Israeli naval boat. The seven other victims were killed in extra-judicial execution operations. Three of the victims of these executions were civilians and the other four were activists. Four other activists were injured in failed extra-judicial execution attempts.

PCHR�s preliminary investigation indicates that the attack which killed seven members of the same family took place at approximately 16:40 on Friday, 9 June 2006. An Israeli naval boat stationed off the coast of Beit Lahya fired seven successive artillery shells at civilians on the beach in the Waha area, north of Beit Lahya. The shells landed on the beach, which had been crowded with civilian men, women and children at the time. Seven civilians from the same family (father, mother and five children) were killed. A sixth child from the same family escaped death but was seen on television crying hysterically beside her father�s body. A further thirty-two civilians, including thirteen children, were injured. Two of the injured sustained serious wounds.
The family members killed in the attack were:

  • Ali Issa Ghalya (49); his wife
  • Ra�eesa Ghalya (35); and their children:
  • Haitham (1);
  • Hanadi (2);
  • Sabrin (4);
  • Ilham (15); and
  • Alia (17).

    Israeli television Channel 2 broadcast footage of the Israeli boat firing the shells at the beach, with one of the navy soldiers scanning the beach with binoculars; thus indicating that the crime had been perpetrated with a premeditated intent to kill.

    PCHR�s preliminary investigation regarding the extra-judicial executions indicates the following:

    • At approximately 23:20 on Thursday, 8 June 2006, Israeli war planes fired a rocket at a group of Palestinian activists near a training compound for the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC), located on land previously occupied by the settlement of Rafiah Yam, west of Rafah. The activists attempted to flee to the neighboring fields but Israeli planes fired three rockets at them. Four of the men were killed, including Jamal Ataya Abu Samhadana (43), the Secretary-General of the PRC and the Supervisor-General of the Palestinian Ministry of Interior. Abu Samhadana had survived a number of previous assassination attempts, having been injured in one such attempt on 9 December 2004. The other three victims were:
      • Nidal Nabil Mousa, a 21-year-old resident of Rafah, a member of the Al-Quds Brigades;
      • Ahmad Mohammad Morjan, a 28-year-old resident of Gaza City, a member of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades; and
      • Mohammad Asaleya, a 22-year-old resident of Jabalia, a member of the PRC.

      Immediately after the execution, IOF announced responsibility for the operation. Israeli media sources stated that Defense Minister Amir Peretz had personally approved the operation.

    • At approximately 15:00 on Friday, 9 June 2006, IOF planes fired a rocket at a group of PRC activists, who were in the east of Beit Hanoun town in the northern Gaza Strip. The rocket missed its mark and landed nearby, injuring one of the activists. The injured man is from the El-Za�anin clan and he was taken to El-Awda Hospital in Jabalia for treatment. Ten minutes later, three of his relatives (including two brothers) went to the hospital to check on their injured relative. They were riding in a civilian car. On their return trip, near the Tal El-Za�tar area in Jabalia, an IOF plane fired a rocket at their car. The vehicle was destroyed and all its occupants were killed:
      • Khaled Yousef Ahmad El-Za�anin (41);
      • Basil Ata Zayed El-Za�anin (26); and
      • Ahmad Ata Zayed El-Za�anin (22).
    • And at approximately 17:10 on Friday, IOF planes fired a rocket at a civilian vehicle carrying three members of the military wing of Hamas. The car was traveling near El-Shayma School in the Beit Lahya. The passengers jumped out of the car before the rocket hit it. They were moderately injured in the strike.

    In a further development, IOF planes yesterday resumed sonic boom attacks in the skies of the Gaza Strip. These attacks cause widespread fear among civilians, especially children, and cause material damage to property.

    PCHR is gravely concerned by the deadly escalation in IOF attacks, and:

  • condemns these crimes, which are part of the overall series of Israeli war crimes being committed in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), which reflect a complete disregard for Palestinian civilian life;
  • calls for the opening of a serious investigation into these crimes, and to hold the perpetrators accountable, particularly in relation to the crime that killed seven members of the same family;
  • reiterates condemnation of extra-judicial executions perpetrated against Palestinian activists, stressing that these executions increase tensions in the area, and threaten to cause additional Palestinian civilian casualties; and
  • calls upon the international community to act immediately to stop these crimes, renewing the call to the High Contracting Parties of the Fourth Geneva Convention to fulfill their obligations to guarantee the protection of Palestinian civilians in the OPT.

    The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) is an independent legal body based in Gaza City dedicated to protecting human rights, promoting the rule of law and upholding democratic principles in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. It holds Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations and is an affiliate of the International Commission of Jurists, the F�d�ration Internationale des Ligues des Droits de l’Homme (FIDH), and the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network. PCHR is a recipient of the 1996 French Republic Award for Human Rights.

    Related Links

  • Black Weekend, Bloody Mud and White Sand, Sami Abu Salem (11 June 2006)
  • Gaza: On the Beach, Mona Elfarra (11 June 2006)