In a breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention, article 33 of which prohibits collective punishment, on Sunday night the 2nd May 2004, Israeli forces demolished 15 Palestinian houses. The houses were located to the south of the “Kissufim” settler road in the center of the Gaza Strip. They also forced the occupants of 11 other houses to leave their premises. PCHR anticipates that these houses will also be demolished.
According to preliminary investigations, conducted by PCHR, on Sunday around noon KSA (+3 GMT), Israeli forces, accompanied by 6 military bulldozers, moved into the Palestinian residential areas. They surrounded about 20 houses in the Abu Haddaf area. Israeli soldiers ordered the residents of these houses to vacate them. Then a number of Israeli soldiers raided Salem Esleem Abu Farraj’s house and forced all of the family to leave, except for the owner. They occupied the house and transformed it into a military facility. At the time of going to press the owner is still being held inside the house. The residents of other homes were allowed to re-enter
That evening, Israeli forces opened fire at these other houses. This forced the residents to leave their houses for the second time. Soon after, Israeli forces started to demolish these houses. By Monday morning, 3 May 2004, they had demolished 15 houses belonging to the families of al-Qedra, al-‘Adini, al-Zar, Abu Farraj and Abu Sinjar. As a result, about 100 people have become homeless. In addition, 11 other houses belonging to the families of al-Masalha, Abu Sulaisel, Abu Rezeq and Abu Farraj, are threatened with demolition.
PCHR submitted an appeal to the Israeli High Court, on Sunday, to stop these demolitions. The court issued a temporary injunction stopping the demolitions until 13:00 on Monday, 3 May 2004. Residents of these houses are now trying to remove their belongings as the houses are expected to be demolished imminently.
PCHR is gravely concerned about continuous Israeli attacks on Palestinian civilian properties. PCHR believes that the failure of the High Contracting Parties of the Geneva Convention to fulfill their Article 1 obligations, to ensure respect for the Convention, encourages Israel to continue to violate international humanitarian and human rights law in the occupied Palestinian territories. PCHR calls upon the international community to intervene to stop Israeli attacks against Palestinian civilians and their properties and to uphold the rule of international humanitarian law.