Today, Wednesday, 28 January 2004, Israeli occupying forces conducted a major military incursion into Al Zaytoun, a residential district of Gaza city, killing 8 Palestinians and causing extensive damage to civilian property.
According to preliminary investigations conducted by PCHR, early this morning, Israeli occupying forces entered from al-Shuhada junction, near Netzarim settlement, south of Gaza City, and moved approximately 1.5 km into al-Zaytoun neighborhood. According to eyewitnesses, Israeli forces took up position in the center of al-Zaytoun and fired live bullets and artillery shells at Palestinian civilians and civilian property.
During the operation 8 Palestinians, including at least 4 civilians not engaged in military activities, were killed and a number of others were wounded, including an ambulance driver. One of the deceased remains unidentified. The seven other individuals killed have been identified as: Ahmed Mohammed ‘Ali Abu Rikab, 22; Eyad Mahmoud al-Ra’ei, 38; Marwan Mahmoud Basal, 39; Mousa Suleiman Dalloul, 30; ‘Othman Mohammed Jundiya, 22; Sameh Kamel Toutah, 17; and Akram ‘Abdul Karim Abu ‘Ajami, 17.
During the incursion, Israeli forces fired at an ambulance of the Palestine Red Crescent Society that was clearly marked with the appropriate symbols. The shots smashed the front window and the ambulance driver, ‘Alaa’ Hamdi al-Sousi, 23, sustained facial injuries.
Israeli occupying forces finally withdrew from al-Zaytoun neighborhood at approximately 11:15am, leaving widespread damage to civilian property in the neighborhood.
PCHR strongly condemns this latest Israeli military attack in a civilian area. The high number of casualties resulting from this latest military incursion demonstrates the increasing disregard of the Israeli occupying forces for the principles of proportionality and military necessity.
PCHR believes that the consistent failure of the international community, specifically the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention, to take immediate and effective measures to halt such attacks has effectively served to encourage further violations of international human rights and humanitarian law.
PCHR wishes to remind the High Contracting Parties of their clear legal obligations to ensure respect for the Convention in all circumstances, and specifically to search for and to prosecute those responsible for grave breaches of the Convention.