Last night, Israeli occupying forces, reinforced with heavy military vehicles and helicopters and covered by intense shelling, thrust into Khan Younis refugee camp and al-Nimsawi neighborhood in the western part of the town.
The Israeli invasion continued until 07:00 on Sunday, 2 March 2003, and left dead two Palestinians, including a civilian who was killed at home. 39 were injured, including 7 inside the Nasser Hospital.
In addition, Israeli forces destroyed an apartment building located in a densely populated area, which rendered dozens of neighboring houses destroyed. They also bulldozed 5 other houses. In an aggression against medical and educational institutions, the Israeli army demolished large parts of the walls surrounding Nasser Hospital and an UNRWA preparatory school.
According to PCHR’s investigation and eyewitness reports, at approximately midnight, around 30 Israeli heavy military vehicles, accompanied by military bulldozers, moved approximately 400m into Khan Younis refugee camp. At the same time a number of other Israeli forces moved into al-Nimsawi neighborhood in the west of Khan Younis. Israeli heavy military vehicles and helicopters shelled the two areas intensely.
In Khan Younis refugee camp, Israeli forces surrounded a 7-storey apartment building, in which 7 families, counting 54 people, live. The house is owned by Fayez ‘Ouda Hussein Abu ‘Aker. They called through loudspeakers on residents of the house to get out and used 4 of them as human shields while searching the house.
Israeli forces also ordered the 4 persons to tell residents of neighboring houses to get out. Then, Israeli soldiers planted explosives in the house and destroyed it, including some commercial stores that contained foodstuffs for approximately 10,000 US$. As a result of the blast, dozens of neighboring houses were totally or partially destroyed, and the eastern façade of a mosque was destroyed. Israeli military bulldozers also demolished two houses.
It is worth noting that early this morning, PCHR submitted an appeal through Tamim Younis, a lawyer working in Israel, to the Israeli Supreme Court to stop demolishing Abu ‘Aker’s house, but the family was not granted enough space of time and the house was destroyed before the court takes a decision.
In al-Nimsawi neighborhood, Israeli heavy military vehicles moved from “Neve Dekalim” settlement, west of Khan Younis, towards Nasser Hospital in the north of the neighborhood.
They surrounded the hospital and military bulldozers demolished large parts of its fence. Also in the same area, Israeli military bulldozers demolished large parts of the fence surrounding an UNRWA preparatory school. They then demolished 3 houses, two of which were demolished totally. The bulldozer started demolishing one of these houses while its residents were still inside.
A number of Palestinian gunmen confronted the Israeli army during the incursion, which continued until 07:00 on Sunday, 2 March 2003. A gunman, Mohammed Mar’ei ‘Abdul Hadi, 25, was killed by a live bullet in the chest.
As a result of the Israeli indiscriminate shelling, a Palestinian civilian, ‘Abed Rabbu D’ib ‘Abed Rabbu, 52, was injured by shrapnel in the chest and back. He bled to death. According to eyewitnesses, 4 artillery shells hit his bedroom in a house in al-Nimsawi neighborhood, approximately 100m away from Nasser Hospital.
Palestinian medical personnel were not able to reach the area due to the Israeli intense shelling and because the Israeli soldiers denied them access to the affected house. ‘Abed Rabbu bled to death. His body was evacuated to hospital only at approximately 07:00, after the Israeli forces had withdrawn from the area.
Also as a result of the Israeli indiscriminate shelling and gunfire, 39 Palestinians, mostly civilians, including 10 children, were wounded. Seven of those were wounded inside Nasser Hospital, including two staff members: Mahmoud Mohammed al-Bardawil, 35, a nurse; and Ahmed Salman al-Faqa’awi, a worker.
PCHR strongly condemns this serious escalation in the violence perpetrated by the Israeli occupying forces against Palestinian civilians. PCHR is deeply concerned about the destruction carried out by Israeli forces in Palestinian areas close to Israeli settlements, in an attempt to widen the security zones and annex the land to the settlements.
PCHR believes that the failure of the international community to take steps in order to stop the numerous grave breaches of international humanitarian law, perpetrated by the Israeli military, encourages Israel to commit more hideous attacks. PCHR calls upon the international community to put an end to its silence and immediately intervene to stop these grave breaches. PCHR reminds the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 of their obligations under the Convention to ensure respect for the Convention, and take effective steps to stop the persistent, flagrant violations of the Convention by the Israeli occupying forces.