On Sunday morning, 8 February 2004, Israeli occupying forces committed another war crime when they killed one Palestinian and injured 12 others, which include 2 children and 2 women in Rafah, during a military incursion into al-Salam neighborhood.
According to information available so far to PCHR, at approximately 4 am, Israeli occupying forces, reinforced by 20 heavy military vehicles and 2 helicopters, moved into al-Salam neighborhood adjacent to the Egyptian border south of Rafah, and opened fire at the area, injuring 12 Palestinian civilians, including 2 children and 2 women.
Israeli forces then surrounded the house of Ashraf Adnan Abu Libda, 32, who was allegedly wanted by these forces for his activities in the Abu Ali Mustafa Brigade, the military wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). Israeli forces had called on Abu Libda through megaphones to surrender, but he refused and exchanged fire with them. As a result, Abu Libda was killed by several live bullets throughout his body, and his father was also injured.
PCHR’s field worker in Rafah reported that Israeli occupying forces have maintained their presence in the area and have continued to open fire indiscriminately, and have also surrounded a number of houses. There are concerns that this Israeli military operation may cause more casualties among unarmed Palestinian civilians. PCHR’s field worker has not been able to enter the area to check the damage incurred by the Israeli military operation.
Preliminary investigations conducted by PCHR proved that Israeli occupying forces have used excessive force during their military operations especially during incursions conducted to arrest allegedly wanted Palestinians. These operations often cause casualties among Palestinian civilians. In addition, in a similar operation in Rafah, on 2 February 2004, Israeli occupying forces killed 4 Palestinians.
PCHR strongly condemns violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, including war crimes, systematically perpetrated by the Israeli government and its occupying forces against Palestinian civilians and property. PCHR believes that the failure to act by the international community serves to encourage Israel and its occupying forces to commit more war crimes.
PCHR calls upon the international community to immediately intervene to stop these violations. PCHR also reminds the High Contracting Parties to the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention of their legal obligations to ensure respect for the convention and take concrete steps to stop violations perpetrated by Israeli occupying forces in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.