PCHR strongly condemns the continued killing of Palestinian civilians and destruction of civilian facilities in the Gaza Strip by Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF), which have been exercising disproportionate and lethal force. PCHR also reiterates its calls for the international community, particularly the High Contracting Parties to the 1949 Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War to immediately intervene to protect the Palestinian civilian population and force the occupying power to comply with the Convention. PCHR further calls upon the High Contracting Parties to implement article 1, which calls for respecting and ensuring respect for the Convention in all circumstances.
According to investigations conducted by PCHR, on Friday, 7 July 2006, IOF continued their wide scale incursion into the northern Gaza Strip for the second consecutive day. They moved into the north east of Beit Hanoun and razed large areas of Palestinian agricultural land. They also moved into the north of Beit Lahia, occupying the al-Salateen, al-‘Atatra and al-Israa’ neighborhoods. Moreover, IOF continued to shell civilian populated areas and seized control of dozens of houses, forcing hundreds of Palestinian civilians to leave their homes. PCHR’s field worker in the northern Gaza Strip reported that IOF detained at least 5000 people and endangered their lives by using them as human shields.
On Saturday morning, 8 July 2006, IOF redeployed to the edges of less densely populated Palestinian areas. They also moved to the edges of al-Zaytoun and al-Shojaeya neighborhoods in the east of Gaza City. IOF are apparently using an attack-and-withdraw tactic and they may move again into the areas in the north, around which they have currently redeployed. Israeli military sources declared that IOF is using a policy of moving from one area to another in order to cause maximum damage and exhaust Palestinian civilians. Over the past 24 hours, IOF have escalated their attacks on the Gaza Strip. They have killed ten Palestinians, including two children, one of whom is deaf. The body of one of the victims was found after IOF had redeployed outside the al-Israa’ area. The victim was mentally disabled. This brings the number of Palestinians killed since the capture of the Israeli soldier on 25 June 2006 to forty, in addition to at least one hundred and thirty injured.
In a further serious development, IOF have attacked media crews. PCHR believes that attacks on media crews aim to prevent them from carrying out their jobs in reporting on crimes committed by IOF.
In addition, this escalation is accompanied by a strict siege imposed on the Gaza Strip since 25 June 2006, which is having serious economic and humanitarian impacts. IOF have continued to close all border crossings of the Gaza Strip. As a result, thousands of Palestinian civilians have been stranded at the Egyptian side of Rafah International Crossing Point, and the flow of foodstuffs, medical supplies and fuels through commercial crossings has been stopped, which may lead to a serious humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip.
Chronology of Developments in the Gaza Strip in the past 24 hours:
1. ‘Abdul Nasser ‘Eissa Abu Hwaidi, 42, from Gaza City;
2. ‘Abdul Jabbar Muneer al-Husari, 20, from al-Shati refugee camp; and
3. Khalil Ibrahim al-Hajjar, 22.
1. Ahmed Isma’il al-Sarsak, 35, from al-Shojaeya neighborhood; and
2. Hani Mohammed Abu al-Qumboz, 25, a member of the Palestinian National Security Forces, from al-Shojaeya neighborhood.
In addition, ten others were wounded, including Mohammed al-Za’noun, 22, a photographer from Ma’an news agency, who was seriously wounded by a live bullet to the abdomen and shrapnel to the face.
PCHR strongly condemns the killing of Palestinian civilians by IOF, which constitutes a form of reprisal and collective punishment, in violation of article 33 of the 1949 Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War. PCHR further calls upon the international community to immediately intervene to protect the Palestinian civilian population, in accordance with international humanitarian law and human rights law, before the situation deteriorates even further.
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.