More children killed in Rafah

Palestinian children inspect the demolished house targeted in an Israeli air strike at Gaza City, 4 August 2006. (MaanImages/Wesam Saleh)

The victims of war crimes perpetrated by Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) for the third consecutive day in Rafah has increased to 16 killed, including 10 civilians (four of them children). One of the victims was a three-day-old infant girl who fell her mother’s arm as the latter was fleeing from IOF. Two other children victims were brothers. They were killed and their mother and brother were seriously injured when they were trying to flee their house. The number of injured is up to 39, including 13 children and one woman. All were injured by shrapnel and burns, many of them were injured seriously.

In the pre-dawn hours of Friday, 4 August 2006, IOF planes bombed two civilian houses in Gaza, destroying them completely. In both incidents, the house owners received calls to their mobile telephones from Israeli intelligence telling them to evacuate the house, which will be bombarded. The warning preceded the bombardment by no more than 45 minutes.

In addition, IOF artillery stationed along the Gaza Strip eastern border continued their indiscriminate shelling towards housing areas and agricultural land in different parts of the Gaza Strip, but especially in the northern Gaza Strip.

PCHR is very concerned that the deployment of large IOF contingents east of Rafah and the bombardment throughout the Gaza Strip will result on additional civilian casualties and the destruction of civilian property; especially since IOF resorts to excessive use of force and bombardment from planes and tanks without differentiating between civilians and resistance activists.

The most notable field developments since PCHR’s last press release (#82, issued on 3 August 2006) have been:

  • At approximately 21:50 on Thursday, 3 August 2006, an IOF plane fired a rocket at a group of Palestinian resistance activists in Tannour Quarter in El-Shoka. One of them was killed instantly, and another was injured seriously. The killed victim is Izzedeen Samir Abu Jazar (22). His torn body remained at the site of the bombardment till the next day, when Palestinian medical crew managed to retrieve it.
  • Shortly after midnight on Friday, 4 August 2006, Palestinian civilians fled their homes in El-Shoka due to the intensity of IOF shelling. The infant girl Shahd Saleh El-Sheikh Eid (three days old) fell from her mothers arms. She suffered bruises and internal bleeding. She was pronounced dead in Mohammad Yousef El-Najjar Hospital. The cause of death was internal bleeding and bruises.
  • At approximately the same time, an IOF plane dropped a bomb at a residential house in the densely-populated Beach refugee camp in Gaza City. The one-story house, sheltering a family of six, suffered a direct hit, and was destroyed. The house belonged to Omar Arafat El-Khatib (32), who is an activist in Islamic Jihad. Israeli intelligence warned him of the bombardment 10 minutes before the raid.
  • At approximately 01:00 on Friday, 4 August 2006, an IOF fighter jet dropped a bomb at a three-story house belonging to Abdallah Mansour Abu Qeinas (70). The house was located in Jala’ Street in Gaza City. The house was destroyed, and a number of nearby houses suffered damages. The house owner was warned of the bombardment by Israeli intelligence 45 minutes before the raid.
  • At approximately 06:30 on Friday, an IOF plane fired a rocket at a group of Palestinian resistance activists in Tannour Quarter in El-Shoka. One of them was killed instantly, and another was injured seriously. The killed victim is Isam Younis El-Bashiti (26). After the strike, Ahmad Mohammad Shehwan (21) went out of his house in the area to save the wounded. IOF troops fired at him, hitting him with two bullets in the chest. He died instantly.
  • At approximately 00:00 on Saturday, 5 August 2006, IOF widened the scope of their aggression on El-Shoka, advancing towards Tannour and Amer Project Quarters, about four kilometers from the border. IOF completely destroyed the remaining parts of the Sa’ad Sayel Barracks of the National Security Force, which had been targeted during Al-Aqsa Intifada. IOF took positions about 600 meters from Mohammad Yousef El-Najjar Hospital, and fired indiscriminately in the area.
  • At approximately 00:30, and IOF plane fired a rocket at a group of civilians trying to flee their houses in Tannour Quarter in El-Shoka. The rocket fell in the Oroba Street in the Quarter in the midst of a fleeing family. Two children were killed; their mother and another child in the family were seriously injured. The killed children are: Ammar Raja El-Natour (17) and his brother Kifah (15).
  • At approximately 02:00, an IOF plane fired a rocket at a group of Palestinian resistance activists in Tannour Quarter in El-Shoka. One of them was killed instantly, with his head severed from his body. His name is Mohammad Salah El-Khawaja (22). A few minutes later, another rocket was fired at a second group of resistance activists in the area, killing another resistance activist. His name is Sharif Saber Ayyash (23). His body remained in the area for four hours before Palestinian medical crews retrieved it.

    The indiscriminate shelling and shooting by IOF in Rafah resulted in injured eight Palestinian civilians, including six children. Thus, the number of injured since the start of the aggression is 39, including 13 children and one woman.

    PCHR’s fieldworker reported that IOF raided a number of houses to the east of Rafah, and arrested seven Palestinians. IOF took over a number of houses and transformed them into military outposts to protect their troops. Electricity has been cut off Rafah since the start of the aggression. In addition, IOF have cut off transportation between Rafah and Khan Yunis on Salah El-Deen Road.

    The ongoing aggression has resulted in a harsh humanitarian situation. Approximately 400 families of 2,560 members were forced to flee their houses, and take refuge in emergency shelters provided by UNRWA in two schools.

    PCHR strongly condemns the IOF killing of Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip, and the destruction of their property. IOF disproportionate use of force places the lives of civilians at additional risk during these operations, which are a form of reprisal and collective punishment against Palestinians, a violation of Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. The Centre confirms that indiscriminate aggression will inflict additional damages on civilians and civilian property. The prior knowledge that these attacks will cause civilian casualties and destruction of their property is a violation of the convention, and a war crime in the first protocol additional to the convention.

    In the Center’s view, the complacency of the international community and the High Contracting Parties of the Fourth Geneva Convention and their failure to take effective steps to stop Israeli war crimes has been a supporting and encouraging element for Israel to continue perpetrating additional war crimes against Palestinian civilians. The legal cover provided to Israel by the US, which purposely hinders International Humanitarian Law, and the conspiracy of silence by Europe encourage Israeli to continue to perpetrate war crimes unchecked, placing it above international law.

    The Centre reminds the High Contracting Parties of:

  • Their obligations under Article 1 of the convention to ensure respect of the convention under all circumstances;
  • Their obligations in Article 146 of the convention to pursue suspects of committing serious violations of the convention, noting that these violations are war crimes according to Article 147, as specified in the first protocol additional to the convention.

    Related Links

  • The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights
  • BY TOPIC: Israel invades Gaza (27 June 2006)