Two Palestinian civilians were killed and 20 people wounded when Israeli forces late last night moved in to Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip.
During the incursion they also demolished three houses. The body of one of the victims, a 70-year-old man, was discovered this morning among the ruins of his house that was destroyed by Israeli forces. The other victim was a 32-year-old man who was traveling home in his car when he for no apparent reason was shot dead by Israeli forces.
According to PCHR’s investigation, at approximately 22:30 on Saturday, 30 November 2002, Israeli forces, reinforced with tanks, bulldozers and combat helicopters, and covered by intense shelling, invaded the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Lahia. They surrounded three houses owned by families of three Palestinians who have carried out attacks against Israeli targets.
Without prior warning, Israeli soldiers called on the residents through loudspeakers to leave and then they destroyed the houses. These Israeli measures are a continuation of the policies of retaliatory collective punishment adopted by the Israeli government against families of Palestinian activists.
One of the houses that were destroyed last night was owned by ‘Aashour ‘Abdul Malik D’ib, 70, who suffered from hearing difficulties. D’ib was still in his room on the third floor of the house when the Israeli forces destroyed the house, suggesting that he didn’t hear the Israeli soldiers order to leave the house. Rescue teams discovered his body under the ruins of his house this morning. His family managed to escape the house.
The three-hour Israeli incursion ended at approximately 01:30 on Sunday, as Israeli occupying forces began to withdraw to their military locations in “Dogit” settlement, established on the land of Beit Lahia, which has been occupied since 1967.
Meanwhile, 32-year-old Mahmoud Saleh Mohammed al-Na’rani was traveling in his car towards his house in al-Nada housing compound, east of Beit Lahia. When he passed by Beit Lahia, Israeli soldiers opened fire at his car for no apparent reason. He was killed by several live bullets throughout the body. In addition, 20 Palestinian civilians, including 9 children, were wounded by live bullets and shrapnel.
The PCHR fieldworker in the area reports that more than 30 houses were severely damaged and a number of civilian cars were destroyed during the incursion.
PCHR condemns this latest war crime perpetrated against Palestinian civilians and their property and calls upon the international community to effectively intervene to stop Israeli forces from committing more war crimes. PCHR reminds the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 of their legal obligations to respect and ensure respect for the Convention in all circumstances. PCHR reiterates its call upon the High Contracting Parties to take crucial steps towards Israel’s challenge and disregard of the Convention to ensure its compliance with its legal obligations under the Convention. Keeping silent about Israeli war crimes only encourage the Israeli government of Ariel Sharon to continue to perpetrate more war crimes against Palestinian civilians and their property.