July 18-24, 2002
Israeli occupying forces have continued their full-scale offensive in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), killing more Palestinians, destroying public and private property and violating fundamental rights of Palestinian civilians, including the rights to life, free movement, access to adequate medical treatment, food, education and work. They have maintained effective control over most of the West Bank. This week, Israeli occupying forces conducted an assassination using a warplane. This week, 15 Palestinian civilians, were killed by Israeli occupying forces, including 14 who were killed in the assassination conducted by Israeli forces in Gaza.
In a continuation of the assassination policy officially adopted by the Israeli government against Palestinian activists and political leaders, an Israeli F-16 fighter jet fired a missile at an apartment building in a highly populated area in Gaza City, killing 14 Palestinian civilians, including 8 children, and wounding more than 70, mostly children and women.
Two women and their five children, and Sheikh Salah Shehada, his wife, daughter and bodyguard, were among the victims. According to statements by Israeli occupying forces, the purpose of the attack was the assassination of Hamas leader, Sheikh Salah Mustafa Shehada, 49, from Beit Hanoun. In the attack 3 houses were destroyed and 2 were severely damaged.
This was the second time in one week that Israeli occupying forces used F-16 fighter jets to attack houses in highly populated areas in the Gaza Strip, in assassination attempts. It is a grave precedent and a qualitative escalation of means used by Israeli occupying forces in its assassination policy. On 14 July 2002, an Israeli F-16 fighter jet attacked a 3-story house in Khan Yunis, in an attempt to assassinate one of its residents wanted by Israeli occupying forces. He survived the assassination attempt but the house was destroyed.
As part of the policy of collective punishment adopted by the Israeli occupying forces, and as an implementation of their threats to punish families of suicide bombers and wanted Palestinians, Israeli occupying forces destroyed two houses of families of the wanted and arrested 16 members of these families in ‘Askar refugee camp and Til village in Nablus.
In a continuation of Israeli settlement activities in the OPT, on Tuesday, 23 July, Israeli occupying forces surrounded with barbwires a road and adjoining tract of agricultural land, east of ‘Gani Tal’ settlement in the northwest of Khan Yunis, as a preliminary step to annex the area to the aforementioned settlement. This measure obstructs movement of Palestinians in the area.
The Israeli occupying forces have maintained the total siege imposed on the OPT, collectively punishing the Palestinian people. Israeli forces have separated Palestinian areas, transforming them into cantons, violating economic, social and cultural rights of Palestinian civilians. Thousands of Palestinians continue to be subjected to a tight military curfew imposed by Israeli occupying forces. In the Gaza Strip, on Monday, 22 July, Israeli occupying forces closed al-Tuffah checkpoint separating Khan Yunis from its al-Mawasi area. Dozens of Palestinian civilians were not able to return home. On the following day, Israeli occupying forces imposed a curfew on the area. On Sunday, 21 July, Israeli occupying forces closed Abu Houli and al-Matahen military checkpoints, north of Khan Yunis, on Salah al-Din Street. This action trapped many Palestinians between the two checkpoints for several hours.