Israeli Occupation Forces committed several crimes in the Gaza Strip over the past few hours, which left 11 Palestinians dead, including a child, and injured 33 others, five of them seriously. Some of the injured suffered amputation of limbs. Five of the victims were killed in an extra-judicial execution in Gaza City. The remaining six victims were killed in Beit Hanoun by aerial and land bombardment during an incursion into the town.
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) strongly condemns these crimes, and is concerned that they are a prelude to additional crimes against the Gaza Strip. It is noted that these crimes were perpetrated several hours after the announcement by the Israeli Defense Minister, Ehud Barak, that his forces are close to carrying out a wide-scale military operation in the Strip. In addition, these crimes came several days after the Israeli government declared that the Gaza Strip is a “hostile entity,” and decided to deprive the Strip’s population of a series of civil, political, and economic rights. The declaration did not bring new substance since Israel has been dealing with the Gaza Strip as such for many years. However, the declaration forewarns of a new campaign of collective punishment against the civilian population. PCHR calls upon the international community to move immediately to stop the Israeli threats that will result in additional suffering for the civilian population.
The Center’s preliminary investigation into the extra-judicial execution indicates that at approximately 16:45 on Wednesday, 26 September 2007, an IOF plane fired two rockets at a jeep traveling in Salah al-Deen Road near Dola intersection in the Zaitoon Quarter of Gaza City. The rockets hit the vehicle directly, killing its five occupants. The victims were members of Army of Islam, all of them from Gaza City:
- Sami Samir El-Za’im, age 25
- Fawzi Faris El-Ashram, age 27
- Ayman Mohammad Daloul, age 26
- Osama Salem El-Rifi, age 35
- Hussein Deeb Ahel, age 27
In a second crime, IOF killed six Palestinians, including three unarmed civilians, in the town of Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip. One of the victims was a child. Thirty-three others, including six children were injured. Five of the injuries were serious.
PCHR’s preliminary investigation indicates that at approximately 12:30 on Wednesday, 26 September, IOF moved into the town of Beit Hanoun with approximately 60 armored vehicles under aerial cover from military aircraft. Several armored vehicles took positions near the Beit Hanoun municipality. At about 17:00, IOF fired tank shells and machine gun fire at a gathering of civilians and resistance activists in Zaitoon quarter in the town. Three people, including two civilians, were killed. One of the victims was a child and a second was a resistance activist. Thirty people were injured, including six children. Five of the injuries were listed as serious; and some of the injured suffered amputation of limbs. One of the injured civilians died of his wounds later during the day. The victims are:
- Yusef Talal al-Basyouni, age 17
- Khayri Mousa Hamdan, age 26, a resistance activist
- Ahmad Osama Odwan, age 18
- Tha’er Abd al-Wahhab al-Basyouni, age 22
At approximately 1:00 on Thursday, 27 September, an IOF plane fired a rocket at a group of resistance activists at the southern entrance to the town. Two of them were killed and three others injured, one of them seriously. The two killed are:
- Raji Nabil Hamdan, age 23, from Beit Hanoun
- Mohammad Sha’ban Abu Rokba, age 21, from Jabalia
The IOF incursion ended in the predawn hours. During the incursion, IOF cut off the electricity of the whole northern Gaza Strip. In addition, IOF razed agricultural land in the town.
PCHR is concerned over the continuation of IOF war crimes, and:
- Renews its condemnation of these acts that are part of the ongoing Israeli war crimes in the OPT that reflect disregard for civilian lives. The Centre considers these actions to be acts of reprisal and collective punishment in violation of Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention (1949).
- Points out that the IOF does not respect the principles of necessity and proportionality when using its war machine against Palestinian resistance activists in populated areas, which causes additional victims among the civilian population.
- Calls upon the international community to act immediately to stop these crimes; and renews the call to the High Contracting Party of the Fourth Geneva Convention to fulfill their responsibility under Article 1 to ensure that the Convention is respected, and under Article 146 to pursue parties suspected of committing serious violations of the Convention, noting that these serious violations are considered war crimes in article 147 in the Convention and its First Protocol Additional.