13 March 2003
This week, Israeli occupying forces have perpetrated more illegal military actions against Palestinian civilians and civilian property in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, killing 23 Palestinians, mostly civilians, including 4 children, a woman and an old man. In addition, dozens were injured and private and public civilian property was destroyed.
In the Gaza Strip, Israeli forces conducted a series of large encroachments into Palestinian areas, using heavy military vehicles and combat helicopters. They killed a number of Palestinians and destroyed a number of houses and civilian facilities. On Thursday, 6 March 2003, Israeli occupying forces invaded Jabalya and its refugee camp. They killed 12 Palestinians and destroyed a number of houses, civilian facilities, streets and electricity, water and telephone supplies. Investigations conducted by PCHR refute claims by Israeli officials that a number of the victims were killed as a result of the explosion of a bomb that was being prepared by Palestinians. These investigations have proved that the victims were killed by an Israeli tank shell, and PCHR is now investigating the possibility that the shell was a flechette shell.
On the following four days, Israeli occupying forces moved into Palestinian areas in the northern Gaza Strip. They closed some of the main roads in the area. They also fired at Palestinian boys who threw stones at the forces. A Palestinian civilian was killed and more than 40 others were wounded by the Israeli gunfire. Dozens of houses, 3 educational institutions and 7 civilian facilities were severely damaged. Israeli forces also razed large areas of Palestinian agricultural land, damaged roads and destroyed electricity and water supplies in the area.
As a continuation of the Israeli state-affirmed policy of extra-judicial assassination of Palestinian activists, Israeli forces killed a senior Hamas leader and 3 of his guards on Saturday, 8 March 2003. Four Israeli combat helicopters flew over Gaza city and launched 4 missiles at a civilian car, in which 5 Palestinian civilians were traveling, in a densely populated area in the city.
Israeli occupying forces also shelled Palestinian residential areas and fired at Palestinian civilians, killing 6 in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, including a child and a woman. Israeli forces shelled a house, where one of these victims had taken shelter, killing him. In addition, an old Palestinian man died from a previous injury he sustained by Israeli forces, and a Palestinian shepherd was killed in a mysterious explosion.
In violation of international humanitarian law, which prohibits collective punishment, Israeli forces took retaliatory measures against families of Palestinians who have carried out attacks against Israeli targets in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and those wanted by Israeli forces. In this context, they destroyed 12 Palestinian houses in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, including two in Jablaya.
Israeli occupying forces have maintained a total siege on the OPT. They have isolated Palestinian communities from one another. They have partitioned the Gaza Strip into three separated zones and restricted the movement of people and goods. They have also maintained curfews on some areas in the West Bank.
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