Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) Escalate Attacks on Palestinian Civilians and Property in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT)
As the international community has remained silent, IOF have continued to wage a full scale offensive on the Palestinian people, especially in the Gaza Strip. During the reported period, IOF have waged a media war against Palestinian civilians. They have dropped leaflets in streets and on roofs of houses, phoned civilians threatening to destroy their houses if they helped Palestinian resistance activist, and ordered a number of Palestinian resistance activists through phone calls on their mobile phones to evacuate their houses, which would be destroyed. IOF have further continued their Operation Grasshopper, under which they move in a certain area, commit crimes there and then redeploy outside it. They then move into another area and do the same.
PCHR, monitoring with utmost concern the developments of this offensive, calls upon the international community, particularly the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and United Nations, to immediately intervene to force IOF to stop this offensive and allow the passage of foodstuffs, medical supplies and fuels into the Gaza Strip.
The outcome of crimes committed by IOF since 25 June 2006:
Israeli violations of international law continued in the OPT during the reported period (3 - 9 August 2006):
Killing: During the reported period, IOF killed 20 Palestinians, including 12 civilians, in the Gaza Strip. The victims included 6 children and an old man. In addition, civilian died from a previous wound he had sustained last month. It is noted that 17 of the victims were killed during a 3-day IOF incursion into Rafah. This number includes two brothers, who were attacked by an IOF drone while they were fleeing from the area together with their mother and brother, who were also wounded. It also included a 3-day-old baby, who fell from the hands of her mother who was fleeing from the area, as IOF shelled it. Most of the victims were killed by IOF air strikes. The remaining 3 victims, other than those who were killed in Rafah, were two members of the Palestinian resistance and a 3-year-old child. The two members were killed by a missile fired by an IOF warplane, whereas the child died when she fell from the roof of her family’s house due to the heavy explosion caused by the missile.
In addition, 45 Palestinian civilians, including 18 children and a woman, were wounded by IOF shelling. Thus, the number of Palestinians killed by IOF in the Gaza Strip since the beginning of “Operation Summer Rains” on 25 June 2006 has increased to 181, including 100 civilians. These civilians have included 42 children and 10 women. In addition, 693 others, mostly civilians, including 188 children, 24 women, 4 paramedics and 4 journalists, have been wounded.
IOF also launched at least 12 air strikes on a number of targets in the Gaza Strip, including 3 houses belonging to Palestinian resistance activists. These houses were destroyed, and a number of neighboring houses and civilian facilities were severely damaged. IOF intelligence officers ordered owners of these houses by phone to evacuate their houses. The targeted houses were not located in confrontation areas, or in areas used to fire rockets. They were distributed in different parts of the Gaza Strip. In addition, they were multi-story apartment structures. The destruction caused fear among the civilian population. The destruction of houses is based on intelligence reports, which can be inaccurate or out of date and often do not justify attacks on civilians and their property. Article 53 of the Fourth Geneva Convention prohibits the destruction of real or personal property, “except where such destruction is rendered absolutely necessary by military operations.”
In a further escalation, IOF fired dozens of artillery shells at Palestinian residential areas and agricultural land in the Gaza Strip. A number of Palestinian civilians were killed or wounded and a number of flats were damaged. Hundreds of families have been forced to leave their homes due to the IOF shelling. In Rafah, IOF have repeatedly shelled the electricity network, cutting electricity off from the whole town.
In the West Bank, IOF committed two extra-judicial executions, which left dead 3 members of the al-Quds Brigades, the military wing of the Islamic Jihad. On 6 August 2006, IOF extra-judicially executed one of these Palestinians in Seilat al-Harthiya village, southwest of Jenin. An IOF sniper fired at the victim who was hiding on the roof of his house. On 9 August 2006, an IOF helicopter gunship fired 3 missiles at a house in Jenin refugee camp, killing two Palestinians. IOF had used helicopter gunships in military operations for the first time since Operation Defensive Shield in 2002. In addition, 12 Palestinian civilians, including 7 children and a girl, were wounded by IOF gunfire.
Incursions: During the reported period, IOF conducted a 3-day incursion into al-Shouka village in Rafah. During this incursion, IOF destroyed 42 houses, in which 285 people (42 families) lived. They also razed 557 of agricultural land, and damaged the civilian infrastructure of the village. IOF conducted 4 incursions into areas in the Gaza Strip. They destroyed civilian property and shelled residential areas. Dozens of families were also forced to leave their houses due to the intense IOF shelling.
In the West Bank, IOF conducted at least 38 military incursions into Palestinian communities, during which they raided dozens of house and arrested 44 Palestinian civilians, including a woman, 3 children and the Speaker and a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council.
Restrictions on Movement: IOF have continued to impose a tightened siege on the OPT and imposed severe restrictions on the movement of Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including Occupied East Jerusalem.
IOF have imposed a strict siege on the Gaza Strip. They have closed its border crossings as a form of collective punishment against Palestinian civilians.
IOF have closed Rafah International Crossing Point, even though they do not directly control it. They have prevented European observers working at the crossing point form reaching it. On 18 and 19 July 2006, IOF permitted reopening the crossing point partially, with the presence of EU observers and in agreement with the Egyptian side, for travelers wishing to come back to the Gaza Strip. IOF have closed commercial crossings of the Gaza Strip, especially al-Mentar (Karni) crossing. As a consequence, the economic situation inside the Gaza Strip has further deteriorated and many goods have been lacked in markets. IOF have also continued to close Erez crossing in the northern Gaza Strip. In addition, IOF have prevented Palestinian fishermen from fishing.
IOF have tightened the siege imposed on Palestinian communities in the West Bank. They have isolated Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank. IOF positioned at various checkpoints in the West Bank have continued to impose severe restrictions on the movement of Palestinian civilians. IOF have continued to separate between the north and south of the West Bank. During the reported period, IOF positioned at various checkpoints around imposed severe restrictions on the movement of Palestinian civilians. On Friday, 4 August 2006, IOF prevented Palestinian aged below 45 from going to the al-Aqsa Mosque for the Friday prayer. Additionally, IOF established a new checkpoint at Jaba’ intersection, northeast of Jerusalem, only two kilometers way from Qalandya checkpoint, which has been transformed into an international crossing point.
Annexation Wall: IOF have continued to construct the Annexation Wall inside the West Bank. On Sunday, 6 August 2006, IOF issued a military order confiscating dozens of donums of agricultural land in the west of Beit ‘Awa village, southwest of Hebron. Also during the reported period, IOF burnt at lest 100 donums of agricultural land in Far’oun village, which has been isolated behind the Wall, south of Tulkarm.
Illegal Settler Activities: Israeli settlers in breach of international humanitarian law continue to reside in the OPT and have launched a series of attacks against Palestinian civilians and property. On Sunday evening, 6 August 2006, a number of Israeli settlers traveling in a civilian car opened fire at a Palestinian truck that was traveling before them near Douma village, southeast of Nablus. As a result, Hussein Fahmi ‘Ali Mardawi, 48, from Habla village southeast of Qalqilya, was killed by two live bullets to the heart, and his son, 17-year-old ‘Ameed, was wounded by shrapnel to the left hand and shoulder.
Israeli Violations Documented during the Reporting Period (3 - 9 August 2006)
1. Israeli Offensive on the Gaza Strip
For the fifth consecutive week, IOF continued their open-ended offensive on the OPT, especially in the Gaza Strip, after Palestinians had captured an IOF soldier from a military outpost on 25 June 2006. Since then, IOF have been perpetrating war crimes and serious violations in several areas in the Gaza Strip. These crimes have included willful killing, disproportionate use of lethal force; destruction of civilian infrastructure, including electricity and water networks; large scale destruction of public and private property; air strikes and mock air raids on civilian targets, including educational institutions; governmental compounds; and training sites and activists of Palestinian resistance organizations.
In addition, IOF have targeted journalists and media crews covering the events on the ground. PCHR believes that attacks against journalists aims at hindering journalists from conducting their professional duty of sending the picture of crimes perpetrated by the Israeli government to world public opinion.
The military escalation has been accompanied by the complete closure imposed on the Gaza Strip since 25 June 2006, and the subsequent severe humanitarian and economic conditions. IOF have closed border crossings, keeping thousands of Palestinians at the Egyptian side of the Rafah International Crossing Point, and preventing the flow of food, medicines and fuel through commercial crossings. As a result, the Gaza Strip is on the verge of a humanitarian and environmental disaster.
Thursday, 3 August 2006
In another crime of disproportionate use of lethal force, IOF have killed 9 Palestinians, including 6 unarmed civilians (one of them a child), and injured 20 others (5 of them children) in land and aerial bombardment. The bombardment accompanied a land attack on El-Shoka community that started during pre-dawn hours. PCHR’s fieldworker in Rafah reported that most of the victims were torn and charred. The Centre is very concerned over this Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) escalation, which is part of an open aggression on the Gaza Strip that started at the end of June. Hundreds of Palestinian civilian casualties fell during this aggression. In addition, IOF have caused extensive damage and destruction to civilian property and infrastructure.
At approximately 23:30 on Wednesday, 2 August 2006, tens of IOF armored vehicles supported by helicopters and drones moved nearly 3 kilometers into al-Shouka, east of Rafah. IOF armored vehicles opened fire indiscriminately during their advance. This incursion continued until Sunday morning, 6 August 2006.
1. Yousef ‘Abdullah Abu Mour, 22; and
2. ‘Abdul Rahman Ahmed Abu Sunaima, 42.
The two civilians were killed by a missile fired by an IOF warplane.
Friday, 4 August 2006
IOF continued their offensive on al-Shouka village, east of Rafah:
Saturday, 5 August 2006
In his testimony to PCHR on this attack, an eyewitness, Eyad Hafez Abu Shabana, 39, said:
“At approximately 02:30 on Saturday, 5 August 2006, I was standing in front of my house with my brothers. We were watching the people fleeing their homes in al-Shouka village, al-Tannour neighborhood and ‘Aamer housing project. They were fleeing towards the center of Rafah and towards al-Junaina neighborhood because of the Israeli attack. They were passing through al-‘Oroba Street on their way. As I was watching the flight of the people, I heard an explosion approximately 45 meters away from where I was standing. The explosion caused panic among the people in the area. Many of them fled the area. I walked up carefully to the area of the explosion. I got up to about 5 meters away from the place of the explosion. I saw a woman and three children (two boys and a girl) lying on the street. Smoke and the smell of burns arose from amongst them. I heard the moaning of one of the children and the woman. The other two children were motionless. As I was viewing the scene of the explosion, my friend Sobhi Abu Dahi called me on my mobile phone. I asked him to call for ambulances and report the targeting of a family by a missile fired by a drone that was hovering in the air over the area. Then, I started to call for help from others around me. People were afraid to come near, out of fear that they might be targeted by a second missile. My brother Yahia answered my calls along with a neighbor from the Abu Taha family and a taxi driver from the al-Shawi family. We tried to take the woman to a car; however, we could not because of the burns she sustained. We tried to take the 13-year old boy. While carrying him, I noticed that his right leg was cut off. We went to the hospital. An ambulance arrived after we had left and took the women and the two motionless children to the hospital. At the time of the incident, I did not know the identities of the woman and her children, but after a few hours, I knew from hospital sources that they were from the al-Natour family.”
1. ‘Ali ‘Abdullah Abu Snaida, 18, wounded by a live bullet to the left knee; and
2. ‘Abdullah Jamal Nasser, 18, wounded by shrapnel to the back.
1. Yousef Mohammed ‘Abdul ‘Aal, 17;
2. Mohammed Hamdan al-Soufi, 54; and
3. Mohammed Ejmai’an al-Soufi, 30.
The indiscriminate shelling and shooting by IOF in Rafah wounded 8 Palestinian civilians, including 6 children.
IOF raided a number of houses to the east of Rafah, and arrested 7 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 al-Deen Road.
The IOF offensive resulted in a harsh humanitarian situation. Approximately 400 families of 2560 members were forced to flee their houses, and take refuge in emergency shelters provided by UNRWA in two schools.
Sunday, 6 August 2006
- 17 Palestinians, including 5 children, one of whom was a 3-day-old baby, were killed.
- 37 Palestinians, including 16 women and children, were wounded.
- 20 Palestinians were arrested.
- Large areas of agricultural land, a number of houses and the civilian infrastructure were destroyed.
- At least 100 shells were fired by IOF following their redeployment from the area.
Monday, 7 August 2006
Tuesday, 8 August 2006
Wednesday, 9 August 2006
2. Incursions into Palestinian Areas and Attacks on Palestinian Civilians and Property in the West Bank
Thursday, 3 August 2006
1. ‘Omran Mohammed al-Muhtasseb, 19; and
2. Saqer Mohammed ‘Obaidu, 19.
Friday, 4 August 2006
1. Bahaa’ Smeeh Hashash, 20; and
2. Fathi al-Qaddoumi, 27.
Saturday, 5 August 2006
1. Ahmed Sa’id Salem, 17, wounded by a rubber-coated metal bullet to the chest; and
2. ‘Atallah Zahran, 20, wounded by a rubber-coated metal bullet to the shoulder.
Sunday, 6 August 2006
On 29 June 2006, IOF arrested 8 Cabinet Ministers and 21 PLC members from Hamas. In addition, IOF arrested Hamas political activists during the same campaign. On 6 July 2006, IOF arrested the second deputy speaker of the PLC, Dr. Hasan Khuraisha at al-Karama International Border Crossing. He was released on 30 July 2006 after posting a 10,000 New Israeli Shekel bail. It is noted that IOF released the Minister for Prisoners’ Affairs, Mr. Wasfi Qabha, last weekend, but most cabinet ministers and PLC members have remained in custody.
1. Nidal Habiba, 26; and
2. Mujahed al-Ma’lawani, 29.
1. Mahmoud Hussam al-Tubasi, 17;
2. Ra’ed Mahmoud al-Noubani, 20; and
3. Mohammed Hisham Tabeekh, 19.
Monday, 7 August 2006
Tuesday, 8 August 2006
1. Mohammed Ahmed al-‘Er’er, 20; and
2. Anas Mohammed Khdair, 19.
1. Islam ‘Aadel Jaddou’, 21;
2. Murad Sami Jebril, 19;
3. ‘Awad Dakhlallah Jddou’, 19;
4. Samer Salim Jebril, 18; and
5. Rabee’ Yousef Abu Mefreh, 17.
1. Rowaida ‘Owaijan, 25, Samer ‘Owaijan’s wife;
2. ‘Azzam Marwan Barakat, 21; and
3. Maher Ameen Sallam, 18.
1. Eyad Mahmoud Nazzal, 26, seriously wounded by a live bullet to the eye;
2. Ahmed Bassam Zakarna, 22, seriously wounded by a live bullet to the head;
3. Ameen Mohammed Zakarna, 14, wounded by shrapnel to the body;
4. Mohammed Subhi Hanaisha, 12, wounded by a live bullet to the thigh; and
5. Mohammed ‘Emad Abu al-Rub, 13, wounded by a live bullet to the foot.
1. Shareef Salah Mahfouz, 23;
2. Ra’ed Akram Abu Sunaina, 26.
1. Mahmoud ‘Aaref Abu al-Huda, 16, wounded by a live bullet to the right leg;
2. Nayef Nidal al-Kharraz, 16, wounded by a live bullet to the right foot; and
3. ‘Ammar Nidal al-Kilani, 17, wounded by a live bullet to the right thigh.
Wednesday, 9 August 2006
1. Hani Shaker Abu ‘Ayash, 18;
2. Mohammed Shaker Abu ‘Ayash, 20;
3. Hussein Shaker Abu ‘Ayash, 22; and
4. Jihad Shaker Abu ‘Ayash, 35.
3. Extra-Judicial Execution
According to investigations conducted by PCHR, at approximately 13:00, IOF moved into Seilat al-Harthiya village, southwest of Jenin. They took position in al-Tahaina area in the northwest of the village. A number of IOF soldiers took position atop of a number of houses. IOF besieged a 3-storey house belonging to Sami Najeeb al-‘Emari. They ordered the residents to get out of the house, and demanded the owner’s son, 24-year-old Rashed, to surrender. At approximately 19:00, an IOF sniper opened fire at Rashed who was hiding on the roof, killing him. An IOF soldier then fired at his body from a pistol. IOF soldiers then took the body into the house and left the area. The victim was hit by 4 live bullets to the head and the chest. IOF claimed that he was wanted for being a member of the al-Quds Brigades, the military wing of the Islamic Jihad.
According to investigations conducted by PCHR, at approximately 09:00, an IOF helicopter gunship fired 3 missiles at an uninhabited house belonging to Mazen Farid Hawashin in al-Samran quarter in Jenin refugee camp. One of the missiles went astray, while the other two hit the house. As a result, two Palestinians, who were hiding inside, were killed:
1. Mohammed Majed Ahmed ‘Ateeq, 26, from Bouqin village southwest of Jenin; and
2. Amjad Sa’id Ahmed al-‘Ajami, 22, from ‘Attel village north of Tulkarm.
IOF had not used helicopter gunships in military operations in the West Bank since Operation Defensive Shield in 2002.
4. Continued Siege on the OPT
IOF have continued to impose a tightened siege on the OPT and imposed severe restrictions on the movement of Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including Occupied East Jerusalem.
Following an attack launched by Palestinian militants on 25 June 2006 near the Israeli-Egyptian border, southeast of Rafah, which left two IOF soldiers and two of the attackers dead and a third IOF soldier missing, IOF have closed all border crossings of the Gaza Strip:
The closure of border crossings deprives the Palestinian civilian population in the Gaza Strip of their right to freedom of movement, education and health.
IOF have continued to impose severe restrictions on fishing in the Gaza Strip. Following the attack on IOF on 25 June 2006, IOF prevented fishing. Approximately 35,000 people in and around Gaza’s coastal communities rely on the fishing industry, including 2,500 fishermen, 2,500 support staff and their families. Fishermen have been subjected to intensive monitoring by IOF, which use helicopter gunships and gunboats to monitor the fishermen. On a number of occasions, IOF has opened fire against the civilian fishermen in order to enforce the 9 nautical mile limit imposed on them. The Oslo Accords make provision for Gaza’s sea to be fished to 20 nautical miles.
The West Bank
IOF have imposed a tightened siege on the West Bank. They have continued to impose severe restrictions on the movement of Palestinian civilians and imposed curfews on a number of Palestinian communities.
On Thursday morning, 3 August 2006, IOF positioned t al-Karama International Crossing Point on the Jordanian border arrested Mohammed Fattash al-Fattash, 17, from Salfit villag southwest of Nablus, when he was on his way back to the West Bank.
5. Construction of the Annexation Wall
IOF have continued to construct the Annexation Wall inside West Bank territory.
6. Settlement Activities and Attacks by Settlers against Palestinian Civilians and Property
Israeli settlers (living in the OPT in violation of international humanitarian law) have continued their attacks against Palestinian civilians and property:
In his testimony to PCHR on the attack, ‘Ameed Hussein Fahmi Mardawi, the victim’s son who was wounded in the attack, said:
“At approximately 22:00 on Sunday, 6 August 2006, I was traveling with my father from Jericho back to our village, in a truck. My father was driving the truck. My cousin, 15-year-old Ahmed Khaled Mardawi, who is dumb, was sitting near me. When we were near Douma village, the driver of a car that was traveling behind us turned the lights on, as a sign that he wanted to bypass us. My father opened way for him. As the car was traveling parallel to us, two persons took their heads out of the windows and opened fire at our truck. I was able to discover that the car was black and has an Israeli registration plate. My father stopped. I was wounded, and I thought that my cousin was also wounded. Soon, my father made a strange sound. I turned the internal light on. I found my father bleeding. I phoned my relatives and Palestinian security services in Qalqilya. Nearly an hour later, an ambulance of Palestine Red Crescent Society arrived at the area, and evacuated us to Rafidya Hospital in Nablus. On the following day, I asked about my father, and I was told that he was dead.”
Recommendations to the International Community
1. PCHR calls upon the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention to fulfill their legal and moral obligations under Article 1 of the Convention to ensure Israel’s respect for the Convention in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. PCHR believes that the conspiracy of silence practiced by the international community has encouraged Israel to act as if it is above the law and encourages Israel continue to violate international human rights and humanitarian law.
2. PCHR calls upon the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention to convene a conference to take effective steps to ensure Israel’s respect of the Convention in the OPT and to provide immediate protection for Palestinian civilians.
3. PCHR calls upon the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention to comply with its legal obligations detailed in Article 146 of the Convention to search for and prosecute those responsible for grave breaches, namely war crimes.
4. PCHR recommends international civil society organizations, including human rights organizations, bar associations and NGOs to participate in the process of exposing those accused of grave breaches of international law and to urge their governments to bring these people to justice.
5. PCHR calls upon the European Union to activate Article 2 of the Euro-Israel Association Agreement, which provides that Israel must respect human rights as a precondition for economic cooperation between the EU states and Israel. PCHR further calls upon the EU states to prohibit import of goods produced in illegal Israeli settlements in the OPT.
6. PCHR calls upon the member States of the EU, and all other states, to adopt a voting pattern at the UN bodies, particularly the General Assembly, Security Council and Commission on Human Rights which is keeping with international law.
7. PCHR demands that the International Court of Justice Advisory Opinion be immediately implemented by the international community.
8. PCHR calls on the international community to recognize the Gaza disengagement plan, which was implemented last year, for what it is - not an end to occupation but a compounding of the occupation and the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip.
9. In recognition of ICRC as the guardian of the Fourth Geneva Convention, PCHR calls upon the ICRC to increase its staff and activities in the OPT, including the facilitation of family visitations to Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.
10. PCHR appreciates the efforts of international civil society, including human rights organizations, bar associations, unions and NGOs, and urges them to continue their role in pressuring their governments to secure Israel’s respect for human rights in the OPT and to end its attacks on Palestinian civilians.
11. In light of the severe restrictions imposed by the Israeli government and its occupying forces on access for international organizations to the OPT, PCHR calls upon European countries to deal with Israeli citizens in a similar manner.
12. PCHR reiterates that any political settlement not based on international human rights law and humanitarian law cannot lead to a peaceful and just solution of the Palestinian question. Rather, such an arrangement can only lead to further suffering and instability in the region. Any peace agreement or process must be based on respect for international law, including international human rights and humanitarian law.
 1 donum is equal to 1000 square meters.