Early in the morning of Monday 16th August 2004, IOF killed two Palestinian civilians, east of Jabalyah town, in the north of the Gaza Strip. The two Palestinians were killed when Israeli helicopters launched four missiles at an agricultural field. IOF claimed that its forces targeted a cell from a Palestinian resistance group who were trying to launch Qassam rockets at Israel.
Preliminary investigations by PCHR indicate that the two victims were killed by shrapnel from a rocket and rounds of live ammunition. The attack took place when the two men were collecting wood in area which had been destroyed by an earlier IOF incursion.
Eyewitness reports and investigations by PCHR fieldworkers suggest that at approximately 01.15, Israeli helicopter gunships fired four guided missiles at an agricultural field, close to the premises of al Mutawsat Concrete mixing company, in the eastern part of Jabalyah. These missiles were followed by random shelling from the helicopter gunships, targeting the same area.
At approximately 06.30 Palestinian farmers found the bodies of the two deceased. Ambulance crews went to the area and evacuated the bodies to Kamal Edwan hospital. Later on, the two deceased were identified as: Mohamed Sulieman Abu Hashish, 21 years old, from Beit Hanoun, wounded by live ammunition in the different parts of his body; and Musa Mansur Abu Mashy, 22 years old, from Jabalyah, wounded by bullets and shrapnel in different parts of his body.
Israeli media later reported, quoting Israeli security sources, that Israeli helicopters had launched guided missiles at Palestinian cell tried to fire Qassam rockets at Israel. The sources claimed that the helicopters also targeted a launching pad for the Qassam rockets.
PCHR investigations were unable to produce evidence of military equipment or weapons in the area where the two men were shot which suggests that they were civilians not engaged in military operations.
PCHR condems this attack which is a violation of the right to life as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. PCHR continues to express its grave concern at the continuing escalation of violence by the IOF and at the ongoing policy of willfully killing civilians.
PCHR calls upon the international community, and in particular the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention to immediately intervene to protect Palestinian civilians and their property in compliance with their article 1 obligations to “ensure respect” for the Convention.