In the latest Israeli military attack on Palestinian civilian areas, Israeli occupying forces killed 8 Palestinians, including a toddler, two children and a handicapped man, in Gaza city today. At least 37 others have been wounded.
Israeli occupying forces invaded the al-Shojaeya neighbourhood in the city, supported by helicopter gunships. Earlier Thursday, Israeli occupying forces totally destroyed 8 Palestinian houses and another 5 partially in the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah. At time of writing, the Israeli military operation against al-Shojaeya neighborhood is continuing.
According to information available to PCHR, at approximately 01:45 on Thursday, 1 May 2003, dozens of Israeli heavy military vehicles, including bulldozers moved from the eastern border of the Gaza Strip approximately 500m into the al-Shojaeya neighborhood in the east of Gaza city. Israeli forces seized control over the neighborhood and took up military positions on the roofs of some Palestinian houses, from which they opened fire on the neighbourhood.
According to initial information obtained by telephone from residents of the area, Israeli occupying forces destroyed the walls of some houses to enable them to move from one house to another. The Israeli forces have surrounded houses belonging to the Abu Hain family in al-Mansoura area, claiming that Palestinians allegedly wanted by Israel are hiding in the properties.
In an appeal by the Abu Hain family, of which PCHR has received a copy, the family stated that Israeli soldiers used members of the family as human shields to protect themselves from Palestinian fighters who had confronted the invading Israeli forces.
As a result of indiscriminate shelling and gunfire by the Israeli forces, as at time of release, at least 8 Palestinians, including a toddler and two children, have been killed: Ameer Ahmed ‘Ayad, 2, hit by several live bullets in the chest and abdomen; Mohammed Nasser al-Dahdouh, 13, hit by several live bullets in the chest and abdomen; Ahmed Ramadan al-Tatar, 13, hit by several live bullets in the chest and abdomen; Nasser Nemer Helles, 36, hit by a live bullet in the abdomen; Baker Subhi Muhaisen, 41, handicapped, hit by a live bullet in the chest; Mohammed Kamal Abu Zarina, 30, hit by a live bullet in the head; ‘Abdullah Farajallah al-‘Omrani, 21, hit by a live bullet in the head; and Mohammed Na’im Basel Na’im, 20, hit by several live bullets throughout the body.
In addition, 37 other Palestinians have been wounded, including 5 seriously. Access for Palestinian ambulances and medical staff to the wounded has been obstructed. Shehda al-Gharabli, 67, from the neighborhood, has reportedly suffered a heart attack, but ambulances have not been able to evacuate him.
PCHR remains concerned that as the Israeli military operation continues, the number of civilian casualties is likely to increase.
In the second incident, early this morning about 30 Israeli heavy military vehicles, supported by helicopters, moved approximately 200m into al-Sha’er neighborhood at the border with Egypt, south of Rafah. They surrounded the area and called on its residents through megaphones to evacuate their homes. Israeli soldiers forcibly entered 3 homes, planted explosives and then blew them up.
The houses are owned by Mohammed Hassan al-Sha’er, ‘Aayesh Salam al-Sha’er and Saleh Salam al-Sha’er. Three neighboring houses, owned by Mohammed Hassan al-Sha’er, Mahmoud Hammad al-Sha’er and ‘Awadh Mohammed al-Sha’er, were also destroyed in the blasts.
Israeli forces also demolished two houses owned by Salem Mohammed al-Sha’er and Sami Salem al-Sha’er, and damaged a further 5 homes. During the raid Israeli forces arrested Romania Mills, 27, a British ISM activist, when she attempted to stop Israeli soldiers from entering the Qeshta family home which she had been staying. Israeli occupying forces withdrew from the area at approximately 05:30, additionally having destroyed the electricity, communications and sewage networks.
PCHR is deeply concerned at this latest in a series of large-scale Israeli military attacks on Palestinian residential areas in the Gaza Strip, which have caused dozens of casualties among Palestinians and large-scale destruction to homes and other civilian property.
PCHR believes that the silence of the international community only serves to encourage Israel and its occupying forces to carry out further attacks against Palestinian civilians.
PCHR reminds the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention of their legal obligations under the Convention to ensure respect for the Convention and take effective steps to stop violations of human rights perpetrated by Israeli occupying forces against Palestinian civilians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.