3 Palestinian activists assassinated and a 9 year-old child killed by Israeli occupying forces in the Gaza Strip in 72 hours

 PCHR condemns the most recent escalation in military attacks perpetrated by Israeli occupying forces, leaving 4 Palestinians, including a 9 year-old child, dead and 12 others wounded, including 3 seriously.  PCHR is concerned that these attacks may be a prelude to a larger-scale military attack on the Palestinian civilian population.  PCHR calls upon the international community to immediately intervene to halt further deterioration in the humanitarian and human rights situation in the OPTs. 

 In an assassination conducted by the Israeli occupying forces in Khan Younis, a Palestinian activist was killed and 3 passing Palestinian civilians were wounded, including a 5 year-old child who sustained serious injuries.  According to PCHR’s preliminary investigations, at approximately 21:30 on Thursday, 28 August 2003, Israeli fighter jets were seen flying over Khan Younis.  Approximately 20 minutes later, an Israeli helicopter launched a missile at a branch road linking Zo’rob neighborhood and the cemeteries area and al-Nimsawi neighborhood.  The missile hit a man driving an animal cart along the road, killing him instantly. Three Palestinian civilians – a man, his child and his brother – who were sitting near their house, located on the street, were wounded.  Palestinian ambulances and civil defense personnel arrived to the area and evacuated the dead and wounded to Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis.  The man killed was later identified as Hamdi Hassan ‘Abdul Rahman Kalakh, 35, from al-Amal neighborhood, an activist. 

 In a second assassination by aerial attack just two days later, 2 Palestinian activists were killed and 4 passing Palestinian civilians were wounded at the entrance of Nusseirat refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip.  According to PCHR’s preliminary investigation, at approximately 15:50 on Saturday, 30 August 2003, 2 Israeli combat helicopters launched 3 missiles at a civilian car, a Peugeot Thunder, that was traveling along Salah al-Din Street, approximately 230 metres south of the entrance to Nusseirat refugee camp.  One missile hit the front of the car, killing its driver, Farid Yousef Mustafa Mait, 40, from al-Boreij refugee camp.  A second person who was traveling in the car managed to get out through a window but was hit by another missile fired from the Israeli helicopter and was killed instantly.  He was identified as Mahmoud ‘Ali Ibrahim ‘Aqel, 36, also from al-Boreij refugee camp.  In addition, 4 passing Palestinian civilians were wounded.  Israeli sources stated that the two men killed were wanted by the Israeli military.

 In a third incident, a 9-year-old Palestinian child was killed and 5 other civilians were wounded when Israeli occupying forces apparently opened fire indiscriminately into a Palestinian residential area.  According to PCHR’s preliminary investigation, at approximately 18:30 on Saturday, 30 August 2003, an Israeli tank positioned in the vicinity of “Neve Dekalim” settlement, west of Khan Younis, fired 3 shells at al-Nimsawi neighborhood, east of the aforementioned settlement.  The shells hit the third and fourth floors of Building #1 of the apartment complex, located approximately 200m away from the source of fire.  9-year-old Aaya Mahmoud No’man Fayadh, who was riding a bicycle in the yard between Buildings #1 and #3, was killed by shrapnel which hit her in the chest.  5 other civilians, including 2 children, were also wounded in the incident.  Two of the wounded remain in a serious condition.

 PCHR is gravely concerned at this latest escalation in attacks by the Israeli government and its occupying forces, on Palestinian civilian areas.  PCHR is particularly concerned at the new escalation in assassinations by aerial attack.  These latest incidents further demonstrate Israel’s ongoing disregard for international human rights and humanitarian law.  Willful killings of civilians constitute grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention, namely war crimes as further clarified in the Additional Protocols.  In light of continuing war crimes perpetrated by the Israeli occupying forces in the OPTs, PCHR calls upon the international community to fulfill its legal and moral obligations, including as High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions, to ensure protection for Palestinian civilians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.            

For more information please call PCHR office in Gaza, Gaza Strip, on +972 8 2824776 - 2825893. PCHR, 29 Omer El Mukhtar St., El Remal, PO Box 1328 Gaza, Gaza Strip. Website http://www.pchrgaza.org