PCHR: most recent information Gaza bombing

In the most recent information obtained by PCHR, it is clear that previous information published regarding the victims of the assassination attack in Gaza city three days ago was incorrect.

The discovery of three bodies indicates that the work of the Palestinian Civil Defence and rescue teams was halted without completing the search for the victims. The discovery also illustrates the mistake of relevant individuals at Shifa’ Hospital, who declared the names of the victims and delivered the bodies to the families without completing adequate forensic identification.

On Wednesday, 24 July 2002, more than 30 hours after the Palestinian Civil Defence halted its search for victims, local residents discovered bodies of three victims beneath the rubble at the site of the attack. The bodies were those of three children of the Matar family killed in the Israeli attack. The families had previously received three bodies that were believed to be the dead children. The bodies were buried without checking the sacks that contained them and without confirming the identities of the bodies. This apparently arose in part because the mother was also killed and the father was wounded, and unable to make proper identification.

Officials at Shifa’ hospitals thought some of the body parts collected from the scene of the attack belonged to the three dead children. In reality, the parts apparently belonged to Salah Sehada, his wife, his daughter and his bodyguard, whose names did not appear on the hospital’s original list of victims. The three children were identified as: Ayman Ra’ed Matar (18 months), Mohammed Ra’ed Matar (4) and Dalia Ra’ed Matar (5).

In addition, the exact number of victims is 14 rather than 15 as it was initially announced by Shifa’ Hospital. It was discovered that there was only one of victim from the al-Shawa family rather than two as previously thought. There was also a mistake in the name of the al-Shawa family victim. The true name is Yousef Subhi al-Shawa, 32.

In light of this new information, PCHR holds responsible:

  • The Palestinian Civil Defence for halting its rescue mission before completing it; and

  • Certain parties at Shifa’ Hospital, who not only declared a wrong list of victims, but also delivered bodies of the victims to their families without appropriate checking and identification.

    This has not been the first time that Shifa’ Hospital has provided wrong information regarding victims of attack. On 9 May 2002, PCHR submitted a complaint to the Ministry of Health regarding a statement by Dr. Ma’awia Hassanein, Director of the Emergency and Rececption Department at Shifa Hospital, to the Palestinian News Agency (Wafa), in which he stated that a Palestinian girl from Jabalya was shot dead by Israeli occupying forces in Rafah. Later information revealed that the girl was arrested by Israeli occupying forces and had been detained in al-Ramala Women’s prison. PCHR received a response from Dr. ‘Emad Tarawia, Director of the Ministry of Health, stating that he referred to Dr. Hassanen, who said that ‘he gave this statement by mistake due to the pressure of work’ and that he be ‘cautious in the future.’

    PCHR attributes this failure largely to a decision taken by the Palestinian Ministers of Health and Justice on 8 March 2002, in which they authorized directors of reception at Palestinian hospitals to check bodies of martyrs and immediately release them without referring to the Forensic Medicine Department at the Ministry of Health. The decision was conveyed by the Attorney General to prosecutors on 8 April 2002 for immediate implementation.

    PCHR calls upon:

  • The Palestinian National Authority to cancel the aforementioned decision and to ensure that checking and releasing bodies, excluding natural deaths, be done by the Forensic Medicine Department.

  • The Palestinian Attorney General to fulfill his responsibility of investigating and documenting crimes committed by Israeli occupying forces.

  • The Civil Defence and relevant parties to complete the rescue mission in the scene of the recent attack, and take necessary precautions to avoid any further dangers from possible collapse of buildings in the area.

    Palestinian Center for Human Rights, 29 Omar al-Mukhtar St, PO Box 1328, Gaza, Telefax: 972 8 282 4776, 972 8 282 5893, 972 8 282 3725, Email: pchr@pchrgaza.org, web: www.pchrgaza.org