An Israeli military attack in a Palestinian residential area in the central Gaza Strip conducted today, Sunday 7 March 2004, left dead 14 Palestinians, including four children, and more than 80 others, including 26 children, wounded.
According to preliminary investigations conducted by PCHR, at around 03:00 this morning, Israeli forces, including heavy military vehicles and aircraft, moved from the Netzarim settlement, southwards along Salah al Din Street to a point between Al-Nusseirat and Al-Bureij refugee camps. Troops then moved from Salah Al Din Street west into Al-Nusseirat camp.
Israeli forces raided three civilian residential buildings owned by the Quweider, Aaliyan and Ghazal families. Soldiers detained the residents inside the buildings. One resident, Majed Ibrahim Aaliyan, 30, was forced to walk in front of soldiers as they searched the three buildings. Soldiers set up sniper positions on the top floors of the properties. At approximately 6am, more Israeli troops entered the camp. During the incursion, Israeli troops opened fire randomly into the streets of the camp, including from the positions taken in the three houses. Eyewitnesses reported that Israeli helicopters flying overhead also opened fire in the area.
Four children were killed by Israeli gunfire and more than 80 civilians were injured, 26 of them children. Ten of the injured remain in a serious condition.
The children killed were identified as Mahmoud Abdullah Younis, 11; Mohammed Amer Abu Zuraiq, 12; Mohammed Ali Bedawi, 15; and Haitham Mohammed Al Issawi, 16.
Israeli troops withdrew at approximately 09:30. During the incursion, Israeli troops engaged in armed clashes with Palestinian resistance groups. During these clashes, 10 members of the Palestinian resistance were killed. Members of the resistance killed in this incursion were reported as Mohammed Ismail al Shatali, 21; Shadi Abed As-Saidni, 21; Faris Fatehi al Hawajri, 25; Omar Mohammed al Jamal, 18; Hazem Rauhi Aqel, 20; Ahmed Hassan Harb, 22; Khaled Qassem al Hazqi, 23; Moussa Manar Hemo, 25; Yousef Mahmoud As-Sinwar, 26; Hassan Ahmed Zuhud, 42.
PCHR condemns this latest Israeli military attack on a Palestinian civilian residential area. International humanitarian law provides a range of protections for civilians in occupied territory, including the prohibition on military attacks which are likely to occur in excessive/disproportionate injury to the civilian population and their property and attacks which target the civilian population. In particular, the willful killing of or willfully causing serious injury to a protected civilian constitutes a grave breach of international humanitarian law, specifically article 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.
PCHR calls on the international community, specifically the High Contacting Parties to the Convention, to intervene to halt such attacks on the civilian population in the OPTs. In particular, PCHR reminds the High Contracting Parties of their obligations detailed in articles 1 and 146 of the Convention to ensure respect for the Convention in all circumstances and to search for and prosecute those responsible for grave breaches of the Convention.