Palestinian Center for Human Rights 20 October 2003
PCHR strongly condemns the latest assassination attack carried out by Israeli occupying forces this morning in Gaza City, which left dead 3 Palestinians. 2 of the dead were targeted by Israeli occupying forces for involvement in attacks against Israeli targets and the third victim was a bystander. PCHR has repeatedly reiterated its condemnation of the Israeli policy of extra-judicial killings of Palestinians which constitutes a grave breach of international humanitarian law.
According to PCHR’s preliminary investigations, at approximately 10:45am, an Israeli helicopter gunship launched a missile at a civilian car (a white Peugeot) that stopped at the traffic lights in al-Jalaa’ Street in the center of Gaza. The missile hit the front of the car, destroying it and the 2 persons who were traveling in the car were killed instantly: Khaled Ghazi al-Masri, 23, from al-Daraj neighborhood in Gaza City; and Eyad Fa’eq al-Hilu, 22, from Gaza City.
Shrapnel from the missile hit another civilian car that had stopped at the traffic lights near the targeted car, killing its driver. He was later identified as Marwan ‘Abdul Karim al-Khatib, 35, from Gaza City. In addition, 9 passing civilians were wounded, including one who sustained serious injuries.
The attack came only 2 hours after Israeli fighter jets attacked a building under construction in the densely populated al-Shojaeya neighborhood in the east of Gaza City. The building was largely destroyed and 21 Palestinian civilians were wounded, including 7 children. PCHR’s fieled worker in Gaza City reported that most of the wounded were residents of neighboring houses. An Israeli military spokesman claimed that the attack had targeted a weapons store. Shortly after the assassination attack, Israeli occupying forces launched a third aerial attack on an agricultural area, near Gaza City. No casualties or damage were reported.
PCHR is concerned at this latest escalation in aerial attacks on Gaza City. Such aerial attacks in densely-populated civilian areas are clear evidence of the Israeli occupying forces’ increasing disregard for civilian life. PCHR calls upon the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 to take immediate steps to ensure the protection of Palestinian civilians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.