PCHR strongly condemns the killing of three Palestinian civilians and the wounding of three others by Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) that fired at a crowd of civilians in the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Hanoun. IOF used excessive and indiscriminate force against these civilians.
According to investigations conducted by PCHR, at approximately 07:50 on Monday, 13 August 2006, four members of the al-Quds Brigades, the military wing of the Islamic Jihad, launched a missile at Israeli territory from inside the Agricultural Secondary School in the north of Beit Hanoun. They then left the school through a hole in the fence, leaving the launcher in place.
As the resistance members were leaving the area, a number of residents of the area intercepted, and attempted to attack them. Soon, a number of other residents of the area intervened to protect the resistance activists, but a number of gunmen from the area fired into the air and attempted to attack the resistance activists. Later, the four resistance activists were able to leave the area unhurt.
Nearly half an hour later, a number of boys living in the area moved into the school through the same hole in the fence to take the rocket launcher left by the resistance activists to sell it as scrap, but a number of residents of the area attempted to prevent them. As Palestinian civilians gathered, IOF fired a missile at these civilians, killing three of them:
1. Zuhair Mohammed Shehada al-Kafarna, 50;
2. ‘Othman Hussein Mahmoud al-Bo’, 50; and
3. Ahmed Yousef ‘Abed ‘Aashour, 13.
Three civilians were also wounded:
1. Hussam ‘Othman Hassan al-Bo’, 17;
2. Bilal Ahmed Hussein al-Kafarna, 15; and
3. Ma’awia Ya’qoub al-Kafarna, 19.
According to field investigations by PCHR staff, the attack took place near the southwestern fence of the school, which has a hole in it used by Palestinian resistance activists to get in and out of the school. There was also a rocket launcher near the fence. The launcher is 2.5-3 meters high and stands on three legs. Shrapnel found in the area was big and had flippers, electronic layers and iron pieces. The shrapnel is similar to that of surface-to-surface missiles previously launched by IOF on the Gaza Strip.
PCHR strongly condemns this crime, and:
1. Expresses deep concerns for the safety of Palestinian civilians in light of the escalation in the use of force by IOF.
2. Reminds of previous crimes committed by IOF against Palestinian civilians, and the failure of IOF to discriminate between civilians and militants during military operations.
3. Rejects using a school by Palestinian resistance activists to launch attacks against military targets, and reiterates its position that calls for abstaining for launching armed attacks from inside or near civilian areas; rejects targeting civilians whatever their nationality is; and calls for respecting the international law.
4. Calls upon the international community, particularly the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention, to immediately and effectively intervene to provide protection for Palestinian civilians.
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) is an independent legal body based in Gaza City dedicated to protecting human rights, promoting the rule of law and upholding democratic principles in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. It holds Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations and is an affiliate of the International Commission of Jurists, the Fédération Internationale des Ligues des Droits de l’Homme (FIDH), and the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network. PCHR is a recipient of the 1996 French Republic Award for Human Rights.
1. Due to the state of extreme poverty in the Gaza Strip, some children take rocket launchers left by Palestinian resistance activists to sell them as scrap for 100-300 NIS (nearly US$ 23-70). It is worth noting that on 24 July 2006, Khairiya Hashem al-‘Attar, 54, and her grandchild, 11-year-old Nadi Habeeb al-‘Attar, were killed, and her son, her nephew and a passing civilian were wounded in Beit Lahia in similar circumstance. An IOF drone fired a missile at an animal cart, which these civilians riding towards a tract of agricultural land to cultivate figs. These civilians had found a rocket launcher and put it on the cart.
2. See press releases issued by PCHR on this subject, particularly the ones issued on 3 August 2005 and 9 February 2006.