Following 3 aerial attacks earlier on Monday, Israeli occupying forces conducted a further 2 aerial attacks yesterday evening in the Gaza Strip. In the fourth aerial attack in 24 hours, 7 Palestinian civilians, including a child and an on-duty doctor, were killed in Nusseirat refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip. The attack was an assassination attempt by Israeli occupying forces targeting 2 members of the Palestinian resistance. The two targeted individuals escaped but 50 Palestinians civilians were wounded in the attack, including 11 children.
According to PCHR’s preliminary investigations, at approximately 21:15 on Monday, 20 October 2003, Israeli helicopter gunships launched a missile at a civilian car (grey Peugeot) traveling approximately 150m to the east of Nusseirat refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip. The missile reportedly hit the front of the car, but the passengers managed to flee the vehicle. As Palestinian civilians gathered around the scene of the attack, Israeli helicopter gunships launched another missile towards the car, sending shrapnel into the crowd. 7 Palestinian civilians were killed instantly, including a 12-year-old child and a doctor from Nusseirat Medical Center who was tending to those wounded by the first missile. 50 civilians were wounded, including 10 seriously.
Those killed in this fourth attack were identified as: Mohammed Ziad Mohammed Baroud, 12; Zein al-‘Aabedeen Mohammed Shahin, 35, a physician; Mohammed Shnaiwi al-Masri, 23; ‘Atiya Yousef Mo’nes, 20; Mahdi Isma’il Jarbou’, 20; ‘Abdul Halim Mohammed Tabaza, 23; and Ahmed ‘Eid Khalifa, 49.
In the fifth aerial attack, at approximately 22:20, Israeli F-16 fighter jets fired missiles at a building in al-Shojaeya neighborhood in the east of Gaza City, for the second time in less than 24 hours. The building was totally destroyed and 8 Palestinian civilians were wounded, including a child. The building had been hit in an attack earlier on Monday, severely damaging it and wounding 21 civilians, including 7 children. Israeli occupying forces claimed that the building served as a weapons store.
In total, Israeli occupying forces conducted 5 aerial attacks in the Gaza Strip on Monday 20 October 2003. 10 Palestinians were killed, an additional 2 Palestinians were declared clinically dead and over 80 Palestinians were wounded (see PCHR press release of 20 October 2003).
PCHR is gravely concerned by this escalation in aerial attacks on the Gaza Strip. Such aerial attacks in densely-populated civilian areas demonstrate the Israeli occupying forces’ increasing disregard for the lives of Palestinian civilians. PCHR demands an immediate to halt to all willful killings and injuries of Palestinian civilians and other grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention perpetrated by the Israeli military in the OPTs. PCHR further repeats its calls to the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention to take immediate steps to ensure the protection of Palestinian civilians in the OPTs.