Since Friday morning, 17 December 2004, Israeli occupation forces (IOF) have launched a fierce offensive on Khan Yunis, in an act of retaliation against Palestinian civilians and property. During this offensive, IOF have killed 10 Palestinians, 4 of whom were civilians, including a child, and injured 40 others, including 18 children. The injuries of 8 have been described by medical sources as serious. The Israeli offensive has been focused on Khan Yunis refugee camp and al-Nimsawi neighborhood. IOF have destroyed at least 40 houses. PCHR believes that the intensive presence of IOF in the area poses a serious threat to the lives of Palestinian civilians.
According to preliminary investigations conducted by PCHR, at approximately 00:25 on Friday, 17 December 2004, IOF, reinforced by heavy military vehicles and drones, moved nearly 600 meters into Khan Yunis refugee camp and al-Nimsawi neighborhood in the southwest of Khan Yunis. Under the cover of indiscriminate shelling, they ordered residents of houses to vacate them. IOF raided a number of apartment buildings, forced their residents out and transformed them into military sites.
At approximately 04:00, the Israeli air force fired a missile at a number of Palestinian civilians who were near their houses in the vicinity of Imam Albani mosque in Khan Yunis refugee camp. Four civilians were injured, 2 of whom are in a serious condition.
At approximately 05:30, a number of members of the Palestinian resistance clashed with IOF positioned in al-Nimsawi neighborhood. In these clashes, one member of the resistance, Rami Ghazi Abu Sa’da, 27, was killed by a live bullet in the neck.
Also at approximately 05:30, as a result of the indiscriminate Israeli shelling, a physically disabled Palestinian civilian, Sa’id ‘Aaref ‘Abdullah Abu al-Sa’id, 41, was killed by a live bullet in the head, as he had just left the mosque following the dawn prayer.
At approximately 12:20, a number of members of the Palestinian resistance clashed with IOF in al-Nimsawi neighborhood. In these clashes, one member of the resistance, Shadi ‘Abdul Hamid Hussein al-Haddad, 23, was killed by a live bullet in the head.
At approximately 13:30, 2 members of the Palestinian resistance were killed by live bullets and shrapnel from artillery shells fired by IOF: Islam ‘Abdul ‘Aziz al-Nabrees, 21, hit by a live bullet to the neck; and Khaled ‘Abdul Rahman Ibrahim Abu ‘Obaida, 18, hit by shrapnel to the upper part of the body.
At approximately 16:00, IOF positioned in al-Nimsawi neighborhood opened fire at dozens of Palestinian civilians who were in the streets near Nasser Hospital. A child, 17-year-old Jihad Ramadan Abu ‘Omar, was killed by a live bullet in the chest, and 3 other civilians were injured.
At approximately 19:55, the Israeli air force fired a missile at a number of Palestinian civilians in Khan Yunis refugee camp. One civilians, 21-year-old, ‘Izziddin Hamdan, was killed as his body was torn into pieces. A few minutes later, Palestinian medical crews were able to evacuate the body of a civilian who had been already killed in al-Nimsawi neighborhood. The victim was identified as Hamed ‘Essam al-Rantissi, 18.
At approximately 00:00 on Saturday, 18 December 2004, following coordination with IOF, Palestinian medical crews were able to evacuate the body of Ahmed Mohammed Abu Ramadan, 26, a member of the Palestinian resistance, who apparently bled to death to the south of Nasser Hospital.
At approximately 12:30 on Saturday, medical sources at Nasser Hopsital in Khan Yunis, declared that Ibrahim ‘Abdul Hamid al-Farra, 23, a member of the Palestinian resistance, died from an injury he had sustained this morning, during clashes with IOF.
As a result of the indiscriminate shelling by IOF, which has continued since 08::00 on Friday, 17 December 2004, 40 Palestinians, mostly civilians, including 18 children, have been injured in the vicinity of Nasser Hospital, which has been subject to shelling and destruction. This number includes a Palestinian ambulance driver, Hassan Sa’id Abu Samra, 50, who was wounded by a live bullet in the left foot when he was attempting to reach 2 civilians who were injured near the southeastern fence of Mubarak Hospital. Medical crews at Nasser Hospital have been forced to vacate 2 departments due to the Israeli shelling. The educational process at schools in Khan Yunis refugee camp has been paralyzed due to the Israeli offensive.
During this latest ongoing incursion, IOF have demolished many houses, which PCHR’s field worker has not been able to count due to the intensive presence of IOF in the area. This incursion has created a humanitarian crisis as hundreds of Palestinian civilians have become homeless. They have been absorbed at 2 UNRWA schools.
PCHR is gravely concerned for this escalation by IOF in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), especially in the Gaza Strip, which comes less than one month before the Palestinian presidential election. PCHR warns of retaliatory acts against Palestinian civilians and property, which violate international law and international humanitarian law. PCHR believes that such acts constitute a form of collective punishment in violation of article 33 of the Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of 1949. PCHR again reminds the High Contracting Parties to the Convention of their legal obligations to ensure respect for the Convention and take effective steps to stop grave breaches of the Convention perpetrated by IOF in the OPT.