Israeli occupying forces, backed by helicopter gunships, have moved into the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Hanoun, killing 3 Palestinians, including one child, and injuring 5 others. Two children were among the wounded. They have also destroyed four Palestinian homes. At the time of writing, the Israeli military operation was still underway. PCHR fears more casualties will occur amongst Palestinian civilians, as Israeli occupying forces continue to shell the town.
According to information obtained by PCHR, at approximately 02:30 on Thursday, 15 May 2003, dozens of Israeli military vehicles, including bulldozers, backed by helicopter gunships and covered by intense gunfire, moved approximately 2km into al-Zaytoun area in the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Hanoun.
After they had seized control over the area, Israeli soldiers mounted the roofs of a number of Palestinian homes and transformed them into military sites, opening fire in all directions. Other Israeli troops surrounded four Palestinian homes. They called on the residents of the homes and their neighbours to leave.
At approximately 04:45, Israeli forces planted explosives in three of the houses and destroyed them. Dozens of neighboring houses were also severely damaged. Israeli military bulldozers demolished the fourth house.
As a result of the indiscriminate Israeli shelling, at approximately 07:00, a Palestinian child, Mohammed Nabil Mohammed al-Za’anin, 14, was killed by a live bullet to the head. In addition, 5 Palestinians, including two children, were injured.
At approximately 08:00, a number of Palestinian resistance men confronted the invading Israeli forces. Two resistance men were killed in the clashes: Khalil Mohammed Qarmout, 33, from Beit Lahia, hit by a live bullet in the abdomen; and Nidal Mohammed Ekrayem, 24, from al-Tuffah neighborhood in Gaza city, hit by a live bullet which entered his back and exited his chest.
PCHR’s field worker in the northern Gaza Strip reported that Palestinian ambulances and medical personnel were prevented from immediately attending the wounded. Residents of the area also told him by phone that Israeli occupying forces were razing areas of Palestinian agricultural land.
PCHR is deeply concerned at this latest in a series of large-scale Israeli military attacks on Palestinian civilians and property, in violation of international law and humanitarian law. 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.