Five Palestinian Civilians Killed in Northern Gaza Strip

Palestinian children gather near the Al-Nada Towers in the northern Gaza Strip after it was shelled by Israeli forces, 24 July 2006. (MaanImages/Wesam Saleh)

IOF Spokesman: “The army will start to strike houses under suspicion in the GazaStrip to prevent militant groups from accumulating weapons.”

Today, Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) killed five Palestinian civilians, including two children and an elderly woman, in two separate attacks on Beit Hanoun and Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip. Fourteen other civilians, including five children and a woman, have been wounded. IOF have shelled residential areas in the two towns. In the early morning, IOF warplanes attacked a house in Gaza City after having ordered its evacuation. These latest crimes have come in the context of the continued IOF offensive on the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), particularly the Gaza Strip, and have followed a statement by an IOF spokesman that IOF would attack houses under suspicion to prevent militant groups from accumulating weapons. PCHR is gravely concerned for such a statement, for which Palestinian civilians will the price.

According to investigations conducted by PCHR, at approximately 13:25 on Monday, 24 July 2006, IOF positioned at the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel fired a number of artillery shells at al-Nada tower buildings in the west of the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Hanoun. One of these shells hit building (10), only 20 meters away from Beit Hanoun clinic. As a result, three Palestinian civilians, including a child, were killed:

1. Saleh Ibrahim Nasser, 14;
2. Sadiq Ahmed Nasser, 31; and
3. Sa’di Ahmed Na’im, 30.

In addition, 11 other civilians, including three children and a woman, were wounded. PCHR’s field worker in the northern Gaza Strip reported that residents of the affected area started to leave it to avoid being harmed by the IOF shelling.

At approximately 15:35, IOF resumed shelling residential areas in the northern Gaza Strip. A number of shells hit al-‘Atatra area near the American International School, northwest of Beit Lahia. As a result, a Palestinian woman and her grandchild were killed as they were traveling their way back home on an animal cart:

1. Khairiya Hashem al-‘Attar, 62; and
2. Nadi Habeeb al-‘Attar, 10.

Three other civilians, including two children, were also wounded by shrapnel.

PCHR is deeply concerned over the IOF crimes against Palestinian civilians. PCHR stresses that an arbitrary attack that endangers the lives of civilians and their property, especially if prior knowledge indicates that civilians could be killed or wounded, or property be damaged, is a war crime as prescribed by the First Protocol Additional to the Fourth Geneva Convention.

PCHR believes that the failure of the international community and the High Contracting Parties of the Fourth Geneva Convention to take effective steps to stop Israeli war crimes has served to encourage Israel to commit more war crimes against Palestinian civilians. Not only do the legal cover provided to Israel by the US, which purposely hinders international humanitarian law, and the conspiracy of silence by Europe, place Israel above the international law and also encourage IOF to commit more war crimes.

PCHR reminds the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention of:

  • Their obligations under Article 1 of the Convention to respect and ensure respect for the convention under all circumstances.
  • Their obligations under Article 146 of the Convention to search for persons alleged to have committed, or to have ordered to be committed, grave breaches, and bring such persons before their own courts, noting that such grave breaches constitute war crimes under Article 147, as specified in the First Protocol Additional to the Convention

    PCHR calls upon the Swiss Government:

  • To take a leading role in highlighting and acting to stop the grave breaches of international law that are currently taking place in the Gaza Strip, as is its obligation as the depository of the Fourth Geneva Convention.
  • To make efforts to mobilise the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention to intervene in this situation and meet their obligations to protect the rights of the civilian population of the Gaza Strip under International Humanitarian Law.
  • To call on the Security Council to send an international protection force for the Palestinian civilian population of the Gaza Strip.

    PCHR calls upon the High Commissioner for Human Rights:

  • To issue a statement strongly condemning Israel’s grave breaches of international law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT).
  • To make a visit to the OPT in order to see for yourself the long term damage that has already been and is currently being inflicted on the civilian population - a population who should be enjoying protection under International Humanitarian Law.
  • To call a meeting of the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention in order to ensure that these states fulfil their obligation under international law to protect the civilian population of the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

    Related Links

  • BY TOPIC: Israel invades Gaza (12 July 2006)
  • The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights