On Monday morning, the second day of the Eid, Israeli occupying forces killed 4 Palestinians during a military incursion into Tal al-Sultan neighborhood in the west of Rafah. Israeli occupying forces claimed the reason for the incursion into the neighborhood was to arrest an allegedly wanted Palestinian. Two of the victims were brothers, one of whom was physically handicapped and allegedly wanted by Israeli occupying authorities. Three Palestinian civilians were also wounded.
According to preliminary investigations conducted by PCHR, at approximately 03:10 on Monday, 2 February 2004, Israeli occupying forces, reinforced by heavy military vehicles and combat helicopters, moved hundreds of meters into Tal al-Sultan neighborhood in the west of Rafah. They surrounded the house of Yasser ‘Abdul Hamid Abu al-‘Aish, 35, one of the field leaders of Islamic Jihad, who had already previously lost his two legs and right arm.
Immediately, Israeli soldiers opened fire at the house and exchanged fire with Abu al-‘Aish and his brother Hussein, 38, who were inside the house. When gunfire ceased, Israeli soldiers forced Yousef ‘Abdul Rahman Abu al-‘Aish, 52, to enter the house to tell the family of 10 people to leave the house and search for Yasser’s body. Yousef Abu al’Aish entered one of the rooms and pulled at Yasser Abu al-‘Aish’s body, however he was not able to do so since the scene was catastrophic for him and Yasser’s plastic limbs were not on his body, so he left the house.
Soon after, Israeli soldiers moved into the room and opened fire. Israeli soldiers then pulled Yasser Abu al-‘Aish’s body into the street and fired at him again from a close distance. When Israeli occupying forces withdrew from the area, the body of Yasser’s brother, Hussein, was found inside the house.
During this military incursion, Israeli combat helicopters and tanks opened fire at a number of members of the Palestinian resistance who attempted to confront Israeli soldiers. Two men were killed: Bahaa’ Hatem Jouda, 24, hit by a live bullet to the right forearm; and Majdi Mahmoud al-Khatib, 35, hit by a live bullet to the neck.
Three Palestinian civilians were also wounded. In addition, three homes were damaged and a civilian car was destroyed by indiscriminate Israeli shelling. Additionally, it is worth noting that Abu al-‘Aish’s other brother, ‘Abdul Hamid, 28, was killed by Israeli shelling approximately one year ago.
PCHR strongly condemns this war crime perpetrated by Israeli occupying forces on the second day of the Eid, with complete disregard for Muslim feelings on their holy day. In addition, this crime further proves Israel’s disregard for international law and humanitarian law. PCHR believes that this Israeli escalation serves to increase tension in the region and cause more civilian casualties.
PCHR calls upon the international community to intervene and stop Israeli war crimes against Palestinian civilians, as the international silence serves only to encourage Israel to perpetrate more war crimes. PCHR particularly calls upon the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 to fulfill their obligations under the Convention and provide protection for Palestinian civilians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.