21 March 2004
On Sunday morning, 21 March 2004, Israeli occupying forces killed 5 Palestinians, including a man and his wife, injured 9 others and destroyed 5 houses in ‘Abasan village, east of Khan Yunis. Israeli occupying forces moved into the village to arrest one of the victims, who was allegedly wanted. They used excessive force against civilian residential areas.
According to preliminary investigations conducted by PCHR, at approximately 02:45 on Sunday, Israeli occupying forces, reinforced by heavy military vehicles and 2 helicopters, moved into ‘Abasan village, east of Khan Yunis. Under cover of intense shelling, they surrounded a house belonging to Basem Salem Qudaih, 38, who is allegedly wanted by Israeli occupying forces. Israeli soldiers called through megaphones on Qudaih to surrender. According to eyewitnesses, Qudaih was in the house with his wife and their four children. Qudaih refused to surrender and apparently exchanged fire with Israeli forces. Soon, one of the helicopters launched a missile at the house. The missile exploded at the door of the house and Qudaih and his wife, Sanaa’ ‘Abdul Hadi Qudaih, 34, were instantly killed. The house was also partially destroyed. Then, Israeli occupying forces ordered residents of neighboring houses to get out and arrested 5 of them – Qudaih’s father, his three brothers and his cousin. The five were released later.
As a result of the Israeli indiscriminate shelling, 10 Palestinian civilians were injured; one of them, Thana’ei ‘Olayan Qudaih, 20, who was hit by a live bullet to the head, was later pronounced dead. According to eyewitnesses, an Israeli military jeep ran over him after he was hit by the live bullet to the head. An atmosphere of terror spread over the village; two pregnant women miscarried and a number of other civilians were in a state of shock. Israeli forces also fired at an ambulance which arrived to the area to evacuate the injured.
During this incursion, members of the Palestinian resistance clashed with the invading Israeli forces. Two members of the Palestinian resistance were killed: ‘Abdul Rahman Zaki al-Dardissi, 25, hit by a live bullet to the right shoulder; and Ra’fat Ibrahim Abu Tu’aima, 20, hit by a live bullet to the head.
Two houses and a civilian facility were also destroyed by the Israeli shells and missiles.
PCHR strongly condemns war crimes perpetrated by the government of Israel and it’s occupying forces against Palestinian civilians and their properties. PCHR asserts that retaliatory attacks and collective punishment measures launched by Israeli occupying forces against Palestinian civilians and their properties constitute breaches of international law and humanitarian law.
PCHR believes that silence from the international community serves to encourage Israel and it’s occupying forces to commit further breaches and grave breaches of International Humanitarian and Human Rights Law. PCHR calls upon the international community to immediately intervene to stop Israeli war crimes. PCHR further calls upon the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 to fulfill their legal obligations to ensure respect for the Convention and to take concrete steps to stop grave breaches of the Convention, including breaches and grave breaches, perpetrated by Israeli forces in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.