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:
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: