On Thursday morning, 8 July 2004, Israeli occupying forces, continuing a wide scale offensive on the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Hanoun which started on the 28 June 2004, killed 7 Palestinians, including a woman. Thus, the number of Palestinians killed since the beginning of this offensive has mounted to 13, including 3 children and one woman. In addition, dozens of Palestinians have been wounded and at least 1400 donums of agricultural land have been razed. Also this morning, Israeli troops totally destroyed 30 Palestinian houses and severely damaged 10 other ones in Khan Yunis refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip. Four Palestinian civilians, including a child, were wounded by the Israeli gunfire during this operation.
According to PCHR’s preliminary investigations, at approximately 01:30, an infantry unit of Israeli occupying forces moved into al-Na’aima Street in the east of Beit Hanoun, towards a house belonging to the family of Nahed ‘Abdul Rahman Abu ‘Ouda, 44, who is wanted by Israeli troops. PCHR learned that Abu ‘Ouda was killed in an exchange of fire with Israeli troops, but those troops have continued to hold his body in a Palestinian ambulance, without allowing the ambulance to travel out of the town.
At the same time, another unit of Israeli occupying forces moved into al-Sikka and al-Wad roads. These are the only outlets left for the movement of Palestinian civilians as Israeli troops have continued to impose a siege on the town for several days. Israeli troops seized a number of houses in the area. Other troops were deployed in agricultural areas. At approximately 05:30, Israeli troops opened fire at 4 members of the Fatah movement when they were walking on al-Wad road. Three of them were killed: Naser al-Din Mohammed Abu Harbid, 38; Zaher Rajeh Abu Harbid, 31; and Na’im Mubah al-Kafarna, 41.
The fourth member was able to escape. A Palestinian civilian, Yousef Ahmed Mousa al-Za’nin, 52, tried to help the victims, but Israeli troops immediately shot him dead.
At approximately 06:00, a number of members of the Palestinian resistance clashed with Israeli troops. One member of the resistance, Hamed Ahmed ‘Abdul ‘Aziz Abu ‘Ouda, 27, was killed in these clashes.
As a result of the intense shelling to Palestinian residential areas in the town, a Palestinian woman, Jamila ‘Abdul Hadi Hamad, 44, was killed by several live bullets throughout the body, when she was near her house. Her child, Wafaa’, 13, was also seriously wounded by a live bullet in the chest. In addition, 5 other civilians were wounded. Israeli troops have continued to hold 3 Palestinian ambulances. The ambulances are trying to convey the body of a Palestinian killed by the IOF, a woman in labor and an injured civilian to hospital. They have also continued to raze areas of Palestinian agricultural land in Beit Hanoun and in the neighboring Jabalya town. They have razed at least 1400 donums of agricultural land so far. PCHR remains extremely concerned that Israeli troops will continue with these attacks against Palestinian civilians and their properties in Beit Hanoun.
In another attack, at midnight, Israeli occupying forces, reinforced by helicopters, moved into Khan Yunis refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip. Under the cover of intense shelling, they totally destroyed 30 Palestinian houses, leaving 250 people (44 families) homeless. In addition, 10 houses, where 95 people (18 families) live, were severely damaged. Four Palestinian civilians, including a 10-year-old child, were wounded. The child is in a serious condition.
PCHR is extremely concerned about this latest Israeli military escalation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), in the Gaza Strip, which has caused many casualties among Palestinian civilians and inflicted large-scale destruction to civilian properties and infrastructure. PCHR believes that the international failure to act encourages Israeli occupying forces to continue to commit grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention. PCHR calls upon the international community to immediately intervene to stop these crimes. PCHR reminds the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 of their legal obligations to ensure respect for the Convention and take effective steps to stop grave breaches of the Convention perpetrated by Israeli occupying forces in the OPT.