In a serious escalation against Palestinian civilians, Israeli helicopter gunships continued to attack civilian institutions in Gaza City, located in densely populated areas, reflecting a blatant disregard for Palestinian civilian lives. In addition to the destruction of these institutions, which contain political, cultural, media or charitable groups, such attacks have caused damage to unarmed civilians and their properties.
According to investigations conducted by PCHR, the most recent attack took place in the early morning of Monday, 17 May 2004, when Israeli helicopter gunships launched 5 missiles at a 4-storey building belonging to al-Shurafa family near al-‘Emarai mosque in the center of Gaza City, a densely populated area. Four missiles struck and destroyed an office of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) on the first floor of the building. The fifth missile struck an office of Fatah movement on the second floor, severely damaging it. A number of neighboring houses and shops were damaged and electricity was cut off.
Yesterday, on Sunday morning, 16 May 2004, Israeli helicopter gunships launched 2 missiles at a cultural center located in the first floor of a 3-storey building belonging to the Sukkar family in the densely populated al-Shojaeya neighborhood. The center was mostly destroyed and a 13-year-old child sleeping in a neighboring house was injured. A few minutes following this attack, an Israeli helicopter gunship launched a missile at offices of al-Resala weekly on the first floor of a 10-storey building in al-Nasser neighborhood in Gaza City. The missile struck the offices, destroyed their contents, and two Palestinian civilians living in the area were injured.
In addition, on the early morning of Saturday, 15 May 2004, Israeli helicopter gunships attacked 2 institutions located in 2 multi-storey buildings in densely populated areas in Gaza City.
PCHR strongly condemns these violations of international law perpetrated by Israeli occupying forces in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, in a blatant disregard for the lives of Palestinian civilians. Even though previous similar aerial attacks left many civilian deaths, Israeli occupying forces continue to attack civilian targets in densely populated areas, in complete disrespect for international law and humanitarian law. PCHR calls upon the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of 1949 to ensure Israel’s respect for the Convention prevent such attacks against Palestinian civilians.