Elderly Palestinian and His Son Killed when IOF Bombard their House

Palestinian relatives of Hassan Sha’ath and his son Ibrahim Sha’ath mourn during their funeral in Khan Yunis, southern Gaza Strip, August 16, 2006. (MaanImages/Hatem Omar)

Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) killed an elderly Palestinian and his son in Khan Yunis in the early morning hours of Wednesday, 16 August 2006, when an IOF plane leveled their house with a bomb. IOF did not give them sufficient time to evacuate the house; and they were killed during the evacuation. In addition, a second son and two neighbors were moderately injured by shrapnel.

PCHR’s preliminary investigation indicates that at approximately 01:00 on Wednesday, an Israeli security officer called Abdel Hadi Hasan Radwan Sha’ath (31), who is an activist in Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, on his mobile telephone. The Israeli officer told him to evacuate his house as it will be bombarded in a few minutes. Sha’ath was not in the house at the time of the call; and he called his family to inform them of the warning.

The house consisted of 3 stories and was built on an area of 180 square meters. It was located in the densely-populated Sheikh Naser area in the eastern part of Khan Yunis. The household started to evacuate the house at night and in the dark as electricity was cut off the area at the time.

During the evacuation, Israeli security called Mustafa Sha’ath (29), a brother of Abdel Hadi, who is also an activist in Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. They informed him that the house will be bombarded in a few minutes.

Fifteen minutes after the first call and as the household were evacuating, an IOF plane dropped a bomb on the house, destroying it completely. Hasan Radwan Shahin Sha’ath, the 69-year old owner of the house, and his son Ibrahim (45) were killed. Their bodies were found 10 meters away from the house. They were killed by cement blocks shattered by the bombardment. In addition, three civilians were injured. One of the injured is a second son of the dead house owner. The injured were taken to Naser Hospital in Khan Yunis, where their injuries were listed as light to moderate. The injured are: Abdel Rahman Hasan Sha’ath (35), Abdallah Nizar Abu Taha (29), and Mohammad Suliman Mustafa Sha’ath (35). In addition, five nearby houses sheltering 10 families of 75 members sustained damage by the bombardment.

PCHR strongly condemns the IOF killing of Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip, and the destruction of their property. IOF 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. The Centre reminds the High Contracting Parties of the Fourth Geneva Convention of:

Their obligations under article 1 of the convention to ensure respect of the convention under all circumstances;

Their obligations in article 146 of the convention to pursue suspects of committing serious violations of the convention, noting that these violations are war crimes according to article 147, as specified in the first protocol additional to the convention.

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    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 Fédération 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.