Israeli forces kill three unarmed Palestinian civilians

In the latest attack on civilians, three Palestinians were shot dead by Israeli soldiers yesterday evening in central Gaza Strip. Contrary to claims made by the Israeli military, the three men, all from the same family, were unarmed and were shot as they drove a car to visit relatives for the Eid holiday.

According to preliminary investigations conducted by PCHR, at approximately 8:45pm yesterday evening Israeli soldiers infiltrated on foot the Abu Shar neighbourhood of Wadi Salqa, east of Deir-El Balah, in the central Gaza Strip. Israeli soldiers took up positions on farm land in the area. Approximately one hour later, 3 members of the Al-Smairi family left home to pay Eid holiday visits to nearby relatives. The three men got into a white Mazda car and drove away from the house, which is situated approximately 150 metres away from an Israeli military post in the area. When the car was approximately 300 metres away from the house, Israeli soldiers opened fire without warning, wounding the three inside the vehicle. More Israeli soldiers then arrived to the area and imposed a military curfew.

Israeli soldiers delayed passage of Palestinian ambulances to the scene for 90 minutes, despite coordination with the Israeli military in the area. Two of the three men were already dead by the time the ambulance arrived at the scene. The third man was in a critical condition and died upon arrival at the Deir-el-Balah Hospital.

The three Palestinians killed were identified as: Khaled Ahmed Al-Smairi, 35; Osama Suleiman Al-Smairi, 30; and Ibrahim Musa Al-Smairi, 32.

Israeli military sources later claimed that Israeli soldiers operating in the area had killed three armed Palestinians en route to attack Israeli forces in the area. However, according to PCHR’s preliminary investigations, the three were unarmed and were not involved at the time in any attack against Israeli targets. Israeli media articles also contradicted the Israeli military’s claim.

PCHR condemns this latest killing of three unarmed Palestinian civilians. The willful killing of a Palestinian civilian constitutes a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention, namely a war crime.

PCHR calls upon the Israeli authorities, in accordance with international standards, to conduct a full and fair investigation into the incident, to prosecute those individuals responsible, and to provide full reparation for the victims of this incident.

PCHR further calls on the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention, to intervene to ensure Israel’s respect of the Convention, including the immediate cessation of unlawful killings.