Israel practices state terror and Sharon expresses his pride of committing war crimes

Israeli belligerent occupying forces have committed another war crime against Palestinian civilians late yesterday night, when an Israeli F-16 fighter jet attacked an apartment building in a highly populated area in Gaza City, killing 15 Palestinian civilians, including 9 children.

Most of the more than 70 wounded were women and children. According to information obtained by PCHR, among those killed were two women and their five children, a father and his child, and Sheikh Salah Shehada, his wife, daughter and bodyguard. Statements made by the Israeli occupying forces, asserted that the purpose of the attack was the assassination of Hamas leader, Sheikh Salah Mustafa Shehada, 49, from Beit Hanoun.

At approximately 23:55 on Monday, 22 July 2002, an Israeli F-16 fighter jet launched a missile at a 150-square-meter, two-story apartment building located in the densely populated al-Daraj neighborhood in Gaza city. Sheikh Salah Shehada, who is wanted by the Israeli occupying forces, and his family were living on the upper floor of the building. The missile directly hit the apartment building, totally destroying it and one other house. Four other homes sustained serious damage. Fifteen Palestinian civilians, including 9 children, the youngest of whom was only 2-months-old, were killed. Two of the wounded are in a critical condition.

Those killed were:

  • Iman Hassan Matar, 27, killed together with her 3 children: Ra’ed Matar (18 months); Mohammed Ra’ed Matar (4); Diana Ra’ed Matar (5);
  • Muna Fahmi al-Hweiti, 30, killed together with her 2 children: Subhi Mahmoud al-Hweiti, (4 and half); Mohammed Mahmoud al-Hweiti (6);
  • Diana Rami Matar, 2 months;
  • Alaa’ Mohammed Matar (11);
  • Mohammed Mahmoud al-Shawa (40), killed together with his child: Ahmed Mohammed al-Shawa (4); and
  • Sheikh Salah Mustafa Shehada (49);
  • Leila Safira (45), his wife;
  • Iman Salah Shehada (15), his daughter; and
  • Zaher Nassar (37), his bodyguard.

    This was the second time in one week that the Israeli occupying forces have used F-16 fighter jets to attack homes in highly populated areas in the Gaza Strip, in a bid to assassinate individual Palestinian activists. The Israeli forces have stepped up the excessive and disproportionate use of force once again. These latest attacks have set a grave precedent.

    On 14 July 2002, an Israeli F-16 fighter jet attacked a 3-story house in Khan Yunis, in an attempt to assassinate one of its residents wanted by the Israeli occupying forces. He survived the assassination attempt but the house was destroyed.

    PCHR once again expresses its grave concern about Israel’s ongoing and escalating violations of international human rights and humanitarian law against Palestinian civilians, including war crimes. PCHR considers that the failure of the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention to take concrete steps to stop these crimes serves only to encourage Israel and its occupying forces to commit more war crimes and other violations against Palestinian civilians and their property.

    The cover provided for Israel by the USA, the US deliberate obstruction of the enforcement of the international humanitarian law, the conspiracy of silence by European countries towards war crimes committed against Palestinian civilians, have all effectively put Israel above international law, allowing it to act with total impunity.

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

  • Their obligation under Article 1 of the Convention to ensure respect for the convention in all circumstances; and

  • Their obligation under Article 146 of the Convention to search for and to prosecute those responsible for grave breaches, namely war crimes, of the Convention.

    Palestinian Center for Human Rights, 29 Omar al-Mukhtar St, PO Box 1328, Gaza, Telefax: 972 8 282 4776, 972 8 282 5893, 972 8 282 3725, Email:, web: