Jerusalem 23 July 2002
In the early hours of Tuesday, Israeli F-16 fighter jets bombarded a two-store building in Gaza, killing fifteen Palestinians, including women and children, and wounding approximately one hundred residents. The building was located in a crowded residential area in the heart of Gaza.
The targeted appartment belonged to political activist Salah Shehada, whose name appeared on Israel’s list of ‘wanted Palestinians’. Many of the wounded are in critical conditions. The building was raised to the ground. A number of surrounding homes were destroyed.
This extra-judicial execution killed a great number of bystanders, including women and children and wounded approximately one hundred residents, bringing the total of bystanders killed in cases of extra-judicial executions on almost half the total of those targeted.
Those killed in this Israeli attack are Iman Matar (27) and her children Ayman (18 months), Mohammad (4) and Diana (5); Mona al-Huwaiti (30) and her children Subhi (4) and Mohammad (6); Mohammad al-Shawa (40) and his son (5); Diana Raed Matar (two months); and Ala Matar (11).
Local sources have stated that Shehada and Zahir Nasar are among the dead, however, their bodies have not been recovered yet. LAW’s sources have asserted that the victims of the Israeli attack were all civilians sleeping at the time of the bombing.
According to LAW’s findings, at least 91 Palestinians have so far been killed in extra-judicial executions committed by Israel. LAW emphasizes that extra-judicial executions constitute willful killings, which are a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention and as such constitute war crimes subject to universal jurisdiction.
Under Article 8 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, these grave breaches constitute war crimes. Whatever policy the Israeli government chooses to implement, it must by within the limits imposed by international humanitarian and human rights law.
Extra-judicial killings cannot be reconciled with the Fourth Geneva Convention, which seek to protect the lives of protected persons, and violate human rights norms that affirm the right to life and the prohibition on execution of civilians. The circumstances under which most extra-judicial executions are carried out, suggest complete disregard for the risk involved to the lives of bystanders. According to LAW’s findings, 45 bystanders have been killed so far.
LAW strongly condemns Israel’s assassination policy. Israel is legally responsible for the acts of its agents, and is under corresponding obligations to ensure that its agents adhere to the Convention and to prosecute those agents who commit grave breaches.
All state signatories to the Fourth Geneva Convention have also the right and are under a positive obligation to seek out and prosecute individuals responsible for committing or commissioning grave breaches, whereever the perpetrators be. Article 148 of the Fourth Geneva states that ‘no High
Contracting Party shall be allowed to absolve itself or any other High Contracting Party of any liability incurred by itself or by any other High Contracting Party…’
Israel’s ongoing human rights violations further illustrates the need for the immediate deployment of an international protection presence to prevent violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention and to protect Palestinian protected persons within the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
LAW - The Palestinian Society for the Protection of Human Rights and the Environment, PO Box 20873, Jerusalem, tel. +972-2-5833530, fax. +972-2-5833317, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, web: www.lawsociety.org