The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) strongly condemns an assassination attempt carried out by Israeli occupying forces yesterday evening, 30 December 2003, in Gaza City. The attack targeted a member of the ‘Ezziddin al-Qassam Brigade, the military wing of the Hamas movement. The targeted individual and 13 Palestinians civilians were injured. Two civilians sustained serious injuries. This attack comes as further evidence of an Israeli policy aimed at escalating tensions in the region. According to international law, extra-judicial assassinations and other attacks on Palestinian civilians, are war crimes.
PCHR investigators discovered that at approximately 19:50 on Tuesday, 30 December 2003, a pair of Israeli helicopter gunships launched two missiles at a civilian car in the center of Gaza City. The vehicle (a white Peugeot 104) was moving north on al-Jalaa’ street in densely populated area. Four persons were traveling in the car: Jamal ‘Abdullah Jarrah, 38, who is allegedly wanted by Israeli occupying authorities for his activities in Hamas movement, his brother Sa’id Jarrah and two other persons. All are from Jabalya refugee camp north of Gaza City.
The two missiles went astray and hit the ground near the vehicle. The four passengers immediately left the car and were able to escape. According to medical sources, all four were lightly injured. In addition, 10 Palestinian civilian bystanders were injured by pieces of shrapnel from the two missiles. Medical sources report that two of these civilians are in serious condition. A number of shops and private residences in the area were also damaged.
PCHR expresses its grave concern over this escalation by the Israeli government and its occupying forces against Palestinian civilians. PCHR stresses that such war crimes, including extra-judicial and willful killings, further demonstrate the Israeli government’s disregard for the principles of international law and humanitarian law. PCHR also reconfirms that the policy of extra-judicial assassinations officially adopted by the Israeli government serves to increase tension in the region and threatens the lives of Palestinian civilians. PCHR reiterates its call for the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention to fulfill their obligations under the Convention and ensure protection for Palestinian civilians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.