13 January 2003
In another illegal military action reflecting total disregard for the lives of Palestinian civilians, two Israeli combat helicopters launched three missiles at agricultural land southeast of Khan Yunis, in a failed assassination attempt that targeted two activists of the Hamas movement.
Two Palestinian civilians, including a handicapped child, who were in the affected area, were killed and a third civilian was wounded.
According to PCHR’s investigation and eyewitnesses’ testimonies, at approximately 17:00 on Sunday, 12 January 2003, two Israeli combat helicopters flew over Khan Yunis and chased a civilian car, a white Subaru, that was traveling towards Rafah on Khan Yunis-Rafah road (Salah al-Din Street).
Ra’ed al-‘Attar and Mohammed Abu Shammala, from Rafah, allegedly wanted by Israeli occupying forces, in addition to the driver, were traveling in the car. When the car arrived at the crossroads leading to the European Hospital, southeast of Khan Yunis, the passengers noticed the presence of the Israeli helicopters, so they stopped the car and jumped out of it. They ran south towards agricultural land in al-Fukhari area, but the helicopters followed them and launched three missiles at the area.
The missiles exploded on a tract of land located 30m to the west of a tin-roofed house, where three Palestinian residents of the house were inside. Shrapnel of the missiles hit the three civilians, killing two of them, one was a handicapped child, and wounded the third one. The passengers of the car were able to escape.
Those killed were ‘Abdul Rahman Mohammed Hamed al-Najjar, 16, who was physically handicapped and on a visit to a friend in the area. He was hit by shrapnel throughout the body; and Mohammed Hammad Mahmoud Kaware’, 21, who was hit by shrapnel throughout the body.
A third civilian, ‘Abdul Karim Subhi Salem Shubair, 16, a resident of the aforementioned house, was wounded by shrapnel in the left foot.
Later, Israeli media sources reported that, according to Israeli occupying forces sources, the attack was aimed at assassinating Ra’ed al-‘Attar and Mohammed Abu Shammala. It is worth mentioning that al-‘Attar and Abu Shammalla, together with three other persons, survived a failed assassination attempt carried out by Israeli occupying forces several months ago.
According to PCHR’s documentation, on 14 July 2002, Israeli F-16 fighter jets launched missiles at the house of Yousef ‘Abdul Wahab, a few minutes after the targeted group had left the house. The house and a neighboring one were totally destroyed. In addition, a pregnant woman suffered from a nervous breakdown and her child was injured in his hands.
PCHR is deeply concerned about this escalation by the Israeli government and its occupying forces. PCHR believes that extra-judicial and indiscriminate killings constitute additional evidence of Israel’s disregard for the international law and humanitarian law.
PCHR also asserts that the policy of extra-judicial assassinations officially adopted by the Israeli government further increases tension in the area, and leads to more casualties among Palestinian civilians.
In light of the above, PCHR reiterates its call for the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 to meet their obligation to provide protection for Palestinian civilians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.