Since the early morning on Thursday, 30 December 2004, Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) have killed 5 Palestinians, including a child and a disabled young man, and have injured 11 Palestinian civilians, including 3 children and a woman. IOF have also destroyed a number of houses. These attacks have been launched during an ongoing offensive by IOF on Khan Yunus refugee camp and al-Amal neighborhood in Khan Yunis.
PCHR believes that the intensive presence of IOF in these areas can cause more casualties among Palestinian civilians. It is worth noting that this latest offensive has been the third of its kind against Khan Yunis in 13 days, in which 19 Palestinians have been killed, dozens of others have been injured and at least 60 houses have been destroyed.
According to preliminary investigations conducted by PCHR, at approximately 00:00 on Thursday, 30 December 2004, IOF, reinforced by heavy military vehicles and supported by drones, moved into Khan Yunis refugee camp and al-Amal neighborhood in the west of Khan Yunis. Under the cover of indiscriminate shelling, IOF ordered Palestinian civilians to vacate their houses and they did.
IOF raided a number of houses in al-Amal neighborhood and transformed their roofs into military sites. Soon, a number of members of the Palestinian resistance clashed with IOF in Khan Yunis refugee camp. One members of the resistance, Yahia Joma’a Abu Bakra, 32, was killed by a live bullet in the chest during these clashes. Nearly half an hour later, the Israeli air force fired a missile at a number of members of the Palestinian resistance who were near Haroun al-Rashid School in al-Amal neighborhood. One member of the resistance, Sami Mohammed Khudair, 20, was killed by shrapnel throughout the body, and 2 civilians, including a child, were injured.
At approximately 01:30, ‘Ammar Salem ‘Arar, 21, was killed when the Israeli air force fired a missile at him when he attempted to cross a street in Khan Yunis refugee camp. The victim was a member of the Palestinian resistance, but was not in a combating position when he was killed.
At approximately 07:30, IOF shelled Palestinian houses in al-Amal neighborhood. A Palestinian child, 14-year-old Mohammed Yahia Abu al-Sa’id, was killed by shrapnel throughout the body when he was near his house. At approximately 10:30, IOF shelled the same area again. A mentally disabled Palestinian civilian, Ahmed Mohammed Touman, 20, was killed by 4 live bullets in the neck and the chest. As a result of the indiscriminate shelling by IOF, 9 Palestinian civilians, including 2 children and a woman, have been injured.
PCHR is gravely concerned for escalation of attacks by IOF in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), especially in the Gaza Strip. PCHR warns of retaliatory acts against Palestinian civilians and property, which violate international law and international humanitarian law.
PCHR also reminds the international community the IOF violate the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, in particular article 33 which prohibits collective punishment. PCHR reiterates its call for the High Contracting Parties to the Convention to fulfill their legal obligations to ensure respect for the Convention and take effective steps to stop grave breaches of the Convention perpetrated by IOF in the OPT.