Israeli forces kill three children, arrest 13 in Gaza

A Palestinian woman in Gaza attends a protest calling for the release of Palestinian prisoners from Israel jails, August 2007. (Hatem Omar/MaanImages)

The Israeli Occupation Force (IOF) has escalated its aggression against the Gaza Strip. The IOF, which has full control and clear sight over the borders, killed three children and arrested 13 civilians yesterday. This comes as Israel’s prolonged closure of the Gaza Strip continues with grave implications on Gazans’ human rights, especially their economic, social and cultural rights.

According to field investigations by Al Mezan, at approximately 5.10pm on Wednesday 29 August 2007, the IOF fired one missile that landed where three children were playing near their homes by the Industrial Zone, which is only two kilometers from the borderline to the south of the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun. Two of the children, identified as 12-year-old Yhiya Ramadan Abu Ghazal, and 10-year-old Mahmoud Mosa Abu Ghazal, were immediately killed. The third, 10-year-old girl Sarah Sulaiman Abu Ghazal, passed away at a hospital from serious wounds at 8.30 on the same day.

Moreover, at 5pm on Tuesday, 28 August 2007, the IOF entered the same Industrial Zone area and took positions inside factories under heavy fire. No casualties have been reported. Al Mezan’s field workers indicated that IOF withdrew from the area at 3am on the next day, but only after detaining 13 workers and farmers. Eleven of those were released shortly later. The other two are still in detention. They were identified as 41-year-old Na’im Omar Al Bilbisi and his 16-year-old son, Mansour. Al Mezan has a list of the names and ages of the 11 who were released.

Al Mezan Center strongly condemns IOF’s military escalation against civilians in Gaza. The Center is gravely concerned by the killing of Palestinian children who live near the northern border of Gaza while playing near their homes. Two other children were killed last week under similar circumstances. This despite that IOF has full control over the border and clear sight of and highly effective surveillance over it. This conducts necessitates initiating a prompt and serious international investigation and ensuring the adopting of effective measures to prevent them in the future.

Al Mezan stresses that the IOF’s conduct represents a grave breach of international humanitarian law which obliges IOF to observe the principle of discrimination between civilian and military targets and to take measures to protect civilians. They also represent violations of Israel’s obligations under international human rights law, especially given the scope and frequency of their occurrence.

Regrettably, the Israeli attacks have continued accompanied by full silence from the part of the international community, which has failed to observe its legal and moral obligations towards the civilians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). Al Mezan therefore renews its calls upon the international community to intervene immediately in order to cease the human rights violations committed by the IOF, and to provide effective protection for the civilian population of the OPT.

This report was edited for clarity.

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