Israeli forces kill two Palestinians and demolish 40 homes

Palestinian homes have been demolished between the Gush Qatif settlements and Khan Yunis refugee camp (Photo: AEF, 2003)

On Tuesday morning, 4 May 2004, Israeli occupying forces killed 2 Palestinians, including a child, and injured 24 others, counting 2 children, in Khan Yunis refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip. They also completely destroyed 34 houses and partially destroyed 8 others. These attacks took place during a wide-scale Israeli military incursion into the camp.

According to preliminary investigations conducted by PCHR, at approximately 23:15 on Monday, 3 May 2004, Israeli occupying forces, reinforced by heavy military vehicles and 3 helicopters, moved into al-Sad al-Aali area in Khan Yunis refugee camp. Under the cover of intense shelling, they began demolishing Palestinian homes. By 05:00 the next day, Israeli forces had completely demolished 34 houses and partially destroyed 8 others. As a consequence, 299 Palestinian refugees (48 families) have become homeless. PCHR’s field worker in Khan Yunis reported that the families escaped from their homes without having been able to vacate their belongings when Israeli occupying forces attacked the area. Israeli forces also destroyed the fence of an UNRWA elementary school. Many houses in the area had been demolished by Israeli occupying forces last year, and with this latest destruction, the area has become almost vacant.

At approximately 02:15 on Tuesday, an Israeli helicopter gunship launched a missile at a number of Palestinians, including a number of members of the Palestinian resistance. The missile explosion and its shrapnel killed 2 Palestinians, including a child: Jamil Walid Mohammed Abu Mustafa, 17, hit by shrapnel to the abdomen; and Bilal Mohammed Hamdan, 25, a member of the Palestinian resistance, hit by shrapnel throughout the body.

In addition, 24 Palestinians were injured, including 3 whose condition was described by medical sources as serious.

The systematic policy of forcible migration practiced by Israeli occupying forces against Palestinian civilians through regular campaigns of house demolitions, under the pretext of security necessity, has left disastrous impacts on thousands of Palestinian civilians who have become homeless. Destruction of civilian properties constitutes grave violations of international law, whose perpetrators must be searched for and brought to justice according to international humanitarian law.

PCHR strongly condemns these flagrant violations of human rights perpetrated daily by Israeli occupying forces, and asserts that these violations constitute grave violations of international law. PCHR remains gravely concerned for the failure of the international community to provide protection for Palestinian civilians and their properties.

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