Israeli occupying troops have continued their attacks on Palestinian civilians in the northern Gaza Strip for the 5th consecutive day in disregard for the lives of Palestinian civilians. They have caused dozens of casualties among Palestinian civilians and have largely destroyed civilian facilities. On Saturday morning, 2 October 2004, Israeli occupying troops expanded their military operations in the Gaza Strip, especially in Beit Hanoun.
Since the beginning of this latest offensive on the northern Gaza Strip, 45 Palestinians, including 21 civilians, 15 of whom are children, have been killed by Israeli troops. In addition, at least 250 Palestinians have been injured. Israeli troops have also destroyed dozens of Palestinian houses, large areas of agricultural land and the fences of a number of UNRWA schools. In addition, large areas in the northern Gaza Strip have been isolated, while Israeli troops have seized a number of buildings, transforming their roofs into military sites. In the meantime, electricity and water supplies and telephone lines have been cut from these areas. These areas also suffer from a shortage of foodstuffs, especially milk.
PCHR warns of further deterioration in the humanitarian situation if Israeli occupying continue to prevent the entry of medicines and food and humanitarian aid into the area.
According to preliminary investigations conducted by PCHR on the latest developments, at approximately 15:30 on Friday, 1 October 2004, Israeli troops positioned at al-Sikka Street to the east of Jabalya refugee camp fired a number of artillery shells for no apparent reason at Palestinian houses in Block 4 in the camp. A number of houses were severely damaged, but no casualties were reported.
At approximately 19:00 on the same day, medical sources at Shifa’ Hospital in Gaza City declared that Hani Sa’id Mushtaha, 17, died from an injury that he had sustained from Israeli troops at al-Sikka Street to the east of Jabalya refugee camp on Wednesday, 29 September 2004. Mushtaha was hit by a live bullet to the head.
At approximately 21:00 on the same day, an Israeli helicopter gunship fired a missile at a member of the Palestinian resistance near al-‘Awda Hospital in Tal al-Za’tar area. He was instantly killed and a number of civilian bystanders were injured. The victim was later identified as Ibrahim Mahmoud Abu al-Qumsan, 21, from Jabalya refugee camp. Israeli troops continued to shell densely populated areas, injuring 10 other civilians and severely damaging a number of schools.
In the early morning of Saturday, 2 October 2004, Israeli troops, reinforced by heavy military vehicles and helicopters, moved into al-Sikka and Sultan ‘Abdul Hamid streets in the west of Beit Hanoun. Under the cover of indiscriminate shelling, they seized control over the area and transformed a number of houses into military posts after having expelled residents of these houses. Thus, Israeli troops have isolated the northern Gaza Strip from surrounding areas and isolated towns from one another.
At approximately 01:20 on Saturday, an Israeli aircraft fired a missile at a number of members of the Palestinian resistance near al-Bashir mosque in Tal al-Za’tar area. Two members of the resistance and a civilian bystander were instantly killed: Fathi ‘Abdul Rahman ‘Afana, 26, a member of the resistance; ‘Eid Mohammed ‘Afana, 39, a member of the resistance; and Ibrahim Hassan Hamdan, 46, a civilian bystander.
At noon, medical sources at Shifa Hospital in Gaza City declared that Waheed Talal ‘Abdul Rahman, 23, from Tal al-Za’tar area, died from an injury that he had sustained on Friday morning, when an Israeli aircraft fired a missile at a number of members of the Palestinian resistance near al-Bashir mosque in Tal al-Za’tar area.
At the time of writing, Israeli have demolished al-Bukhari mosque at al-Sikka Street to the east of Jabalya refugee camp. They have also started to demolish a number of houses, including ‘Abdul Hadi Zaher’s house.
PCHR has noticed that Israeli occupying troops have used excessive and disproportionate force against members of the Palestinian resistance, in disregard for the lives of Palestinian civilians who could be in the area. It is clear that the Israeli military operations do not pay any consideration for the lives of Palestinian civilians, since they are fully aware that an area such as Jabalya refugee camp is a densely populated area, and any attack against it could cause many casualties among civilians.
These Israeli military operations violate the Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of 1949 (Fourth Geneva Convention), particularly article 33 which prohibits collective punishment, and article 147, which classifies extensive destruction and appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly as a grave breach of the Convention, an act which is considered a war crime under article 85(5) of the Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions, an Relative to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts.
PCHR calls upon the United Nations bodies to immediately visit the area to see the impacts of the Israeli illegal actions, stop them and ensure their non-recurrence. PCHR calls also upon the international community to break its silence and actively intervene to stop these Israeli illegal actions.