Israeli occupying forces shell civilian facilities in Gaza city and al-Boreij refugee camp

Following a bombing carried out by a Palestinian woman in Haifa on 4 October 2003, Israeli occupying forces conducted a number of military operations against the Palestinian civilian population in the Gaza Strip. Overnight Israeli helicopter gunships launched missiles at a Palestinian house in Gaza city and a civilian facility in al-Boreij refugee camp in central Gaza Strip. Israeli occupying forces also intensified internal closures, separating the Gaza Strip into 4 isolated zones.

According to investigations conducted by PCHR, at approximately 00:20 on Sunday, 5 October 2003, Israeli helicopter gunships fired 2 missiles at a Palestinian house located near the al-Yassamin building in Sheikh ‘Ejlin neighborhood in the south of Gaza city. The targeted house was uninhabited. The house is owned by Munza Qanita, who survived an assassination attempt carried out by Israeli occupying forces last month in which two of his companions were killed. The targeted house was partially destroyed and a number of neighboring houses were also damaged.

Approximately 10 minutes later, 2 Israeli helicopter gunships fired 4 missiles at a garage in the densely populated al-Boreij refugee camp in central Gaza Strip. The garage and 3 cars were partially destroyed and 3 neighboring houses were slightly damaged. Shrapnel from the missiles also hit a main electricity transmitter, cutting electricity supplies to the camp and nearby Nusseirat refugee camp for several hours.

Early Sunday morning, Israeli occupying forces closed al-Matahen and Abu Houli checkpoints located north of Khan Yunis on Salah al-Din Street (the main road between the southern and central Gaza Strip). Israeli occupying forces then used bulldozers to damage a section of the coastal road south of Gaza city, preventing travel between Gaza city and the central areas of the Gaza Strip. Later, Israeli occupying forces also closed Salah al-Din Street between Rafah and Khan Yunis. As a result, the Gaza Strip is currently partitioned into 4 isolated zones. Israeli occupying forces also closed the border crossings with Egypt and Israel.

PCHR reiterates its condemnation of Israeli military operations conducted against the Palestinian civilian population in the OPTs. PCHR believes that such operations constitute violations of international humanitarian law, including war crimes. PCHR further asserts that the restrictions on freedom of movement imposed by Israeli occupying forces throughout the OPTs also constitute violations of economic, social and cultural rights. PCHR calls upon the international community to take immediate concrete steps to halt such violations of international human rights and humanitarian law. It further calls upon the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 to fulfill their obligations under the Convention to ensure respect for the Convention and to take effective measures to stop violations of the Convention in the OPTs.