The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) condemns in the strongest possible terms the killing of six Palestinians carried out by the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) in the Gaza Strip yesterday evening and this morning. The victims were all killed by air strikes. This escalation is the first of its kind since the tahdia (the Egyptian-brokered truce between Palestinian resistance groups and Israel) entered into force on 19 June 2008.
According to investigations conducted by PCHR, at approximately 8:30pm on Tuesday, 4 November, an IOF infantry unit moved almost 400 meters into Wadi al-Salqa village, east of Deir al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip. IOF troops raided a house belonging to Mofeed Suleiman al-Rumaili. They held the family hostage in one room, and used the house as a military base. Additional IOF troops besieged a house belonging to Hassan Suleiman al-Humiadi, using a megaphone to order the 23 residents to leave the building.
Clashes subsequently erupted between the IOF troops and members of the Izzedin al-Qassam Brigades (the armed wing of Hamas). Three members of the Izzedin al-Qassam Brigades were injured, one of them seriously. IOF subsequently sent reinforcements into the area, supported by aircrafts. At approximately 10:30pm, an IOF aircraft fired a missile at members of the Izzedin al-Qassam Brigades, killing Mazen Nazmi Abu Sada (32). In the early hours of Wednesday, 5 November, IOF destroyed al-Humaidi’s house, razed 2.5 dunams (a dunam is the equivalent of 1,000 square meters) of agricultural land, and also arrested six members of the family, including four women.
In Khan Yunis, at approximately midnight on Wednesday, 5 November, an IOF aircraft fired two missiles at four members of the Izzedin al-Qassam Brigades in the east of al-Qarara village, near the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel. The four members of the Brigades were killed:
1) Mahmoud Taha Abdul Rahman Balousha (21);
2) Omar Saleem Khader al-Alami, (20);
3) Wajed Nizam Hamza Muhareb, (19);
4) Mohammed Abdullah Mohammed Awadh, (26).
Approximately an hour later, IOF aircrafts fired two missiles at another group of the Izzedin al-Qassam Brigades in Street No. 2 in the east of al-Qarara village. A member of the Izzedin al-Qassam Brigades was killed. He was later identified as Ammar Saleem Darwish Salhiya (21), from al-Amal neighborhood in Khan Younis.
PCHR is deeply concerned over this latest escalation by IOF, and:
1) Reiterates its condemnation for such crimes which are part of a continuous series of Israeli war crimes perpetrated in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT).
2) Calls upon the international community to act immediately act to end such crimes, and renews the calls for the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention to fulfill their obligations and ensure Israel’s respect for the Convention in the OPT.
3) Calls for the immediate and unconditional release of the six Palestinians who were arrested by IOF during these latest attacks.