Israeli Occupying Troops Expand Their Offensive on the Northern Gaza Strip
Partner press release from the Palestinian Center for Human Rights.
Israeli occupying troops have continued their wide scale offensive on the northern Gaza Strip. In the last two days, 15 Palestinians were killed by Israeli troops. Thus, the number of Palestinians killed since the beginning of this latest offensive has mounted to 60, including 27 civilians, 18 of whom are children. In addition, at least 280 others, mostly civilians, including a number of children, have been injured, and a number of them have been rendered permanently handicapped. Israeli troops have also continued to destroy houses, agricultural land, civilian facilities and historical sites. In the meantime, Israeli troops have continued to impose a tightened siege on the area, and electricity and water supplies have been cut. They have continued to obstruct the work of medical crews.
This latest offensive by Israeli occupying troops has been characterized by excessive use of force against Palestinian civilians, as they have attacked civilian communities with missiles and shells. Since the beginning of this latest offensive, 27 Palestinian civilians, including 18 children, have been killed, which refutes the claims of Moshe Ya’lon, the Israeli military chief of staff, that all of those who have been killed are militants. Israeli troops have been positioned a few meters away from Jabalya refugee camp, which is one of the most densely populated areas in the world, where approximately 120,000 people live in an area of less than 2 square kilometers. Consequently, most of the casualties have been in the camp, and many houses have been destroyed. Israeli troops have also used disproportionate and indiscriminate force against members of the Palestinian resistance as many of these were killed when they were not engaged in fighting.
Statements by Israeli political and military officials that this military campaign could continue for weeks not a few days raise serious concerns for the lives and properties of Palestinian civilians. Such statements also provide further evidence of the policy of collective punishment, which has been systematically practiced against the Palestinian people.
According to preliminary investigations conducted by PCHR on the latest developments, at approximately 17:00 on Saturday, 2 October 2004, an Israeli aircraft fired a missile at a number of the Palestinian resistance near Sha’sha’a area in the east of Tal al-Za’tar. One member of the resistance, Yasser Mohammed Abu Ghubait, 20, from Jabalya refugee camp, was instantly killed.
At approximately 00:30 on Sunday, 3 October 2004, at least 10 Israeli heavy military vehicles moved into Tal al-Za’tar in Jabalya. They demolished at least 2 houses completely and 10 others partially. They also demolished a kindergarten in the area.
At approximately 02:00, Israeli troops fired an artillery shell at a number of members of the Palestinian resistance near UNRWA schools in the southeast of Jabalya refugee camp. Two members of the resistance were killed:
- Rani Akram Quddas, 22; and
- Musbah Hussein al-Zinati, 20, both from Jabalya refugee camp.
At approximately 06:00 on the same day, Israeli troops fired another shell at the same area. One member of the Palestinian resistance, Mohammed Ibrahim al-Sherafi, 22, from Jabalya refugee camp, was killed. His body was discovered in the area 2 hours later.
At noon, Israeli troops shot dead Ra’ed Suleiman Abu Wawi, 36, from Tal al-Za’tar area, with a live bullet in the head, when he was on the roof of his house. PCHR’s field worker in the northern Gaza Strip reported that the victim was deaf and dumb, and that his house is nearly 150 meters away from the source of fire.
At approximately 13:40 on the same day, an Israeli aircraft fired a missile at a number of members of the Palestinian resistance at Zimmu Street in Beit Hanoun. One member of the resistance, Fadi Fareed al-Za’aneen, 23, was killed, and another member was seriously injured.
At approximately 15:40 on the same day, an Israeli aircraft fired a missile at a number of members of the Palestinian resistance in Block 4 in Jabalya refugee camp. One member of the resistance, Maher Jameel Zaqqout, 26, was killed.
At approximately 16:00 on the same day, Israeli troops fired at Saber Ibrahim ‘Asaliya, 14, from ‘Abed Rabbu area in the east of Jabalya, as he was trying to leave the area. The child was wounded by a live bullet in the back. He was evacuated to Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, but medical efforts to save his life failed and he was pronounced dead one hour later.
At approximately 17:00 on the same day, medical sources at Shifa Hospital in Gaza City declared that 13-year-old Mohammed D’iab al-Najjar died from a wound he had sustained by the Israeli shelling against Jabalya refugee camp on 1 October 2004. He was hit by a live bullet to the head.
At approximately 18:00 on the same day, Israeli troops positioned to the east of al-Sikka Street near Jabalya refugee camp opened fire at Palestinian houses in Block 4 in the camp. A Palestinian child, 14-year-old Nidal Muhsen al-Madhoun, was seriously wounded by a live bullet in the heart, when he was near his house. He died shortly after he had been evacuated to the hospital.
On Monday morning, 4 October 2004, Israeli occupying troops expanded their incursion into the towns of Beit Hanoun and Beit Lahia under the cover of indiscriminate shelling.
At approximately 03:00, Israeli troops fired 2 artillery shells at a number of members of the Palestinian resistance in al-Manshiya area in Beit Lahia. Four members of the resistance were killed:
- Fares ‘Omar al-Habel, 21;
- Romel Mohammed al-Barrawi, 20;
- Isma’il Ibrahim Shihda, 21; and
- Mohammed Saber al-Baba, 23.
Ambuances were able to evacuate bodies of 3 of the victims, while the fourth victim’s body remained in the area until 07:30.
At approximately 06:00, Israeli troops positioned to the east of al-Sikka Street near Jabalya refugee camp fired at Mohammed Mousa al-Hissi, 27, when he was in a street in the camp, wounding him with a live bullet in the chest. Ambulances were able to reach him only 20 minutes later, but he was dead.
At approximately 11:30, Israeli troops positioned to the east of al-Sikka Street near Jabalya refugee camp shot dead Ramzi Shihda Hasaballah, 21, when he was in a street in the camp, with a live bullet in the chest.
According to information available to PCHR so far, Israeli troops have totally destroyed at least 60 houses and seriously damaged dozens of others since the beginning of this latest offensive on the northern Gaza Strip. They have also razed at least 100 donums1 of agricultural land, and destroyed a mosque and the fence of a Roman historical site.
PCHR’s field worker in the northern Gaza Strip reported that he received several phone calls from Palestinian civilians living at al-Sikka Street, east of Jabalya, in Beit Hanoun’s agricultural areas and in al-Nada housing project in Beit Lahia, during which they informed him about the deterioration in the humanitarian situation in these areas, caused by the lack of water, electricity and basic foodstuffs. In addition, there are a number of patients in these areas who have not been able to reach hospitals. PCHR’s field workers reported also that a number of families in Jabalya refugee camp have not been able to participate in the funeral procession of members of these family who had been killed by Israeli troops due to the tightened siege imposed by Israeli troops on parts of the camp. Israeli troops have also fired at ambulances, which try to offer medical aid to the wounded, and have continued to prohibit the entry of medical and humanitarian aids into the areas they had already seized, especially parts of Jabalya refugee camp.
PCHR strongly condemns such attacks by Israeli occupying troops, which constitute collective punishment against Palestinian civilians, in violation of the Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of 1949 (Fourth Geneva Convention), which prohibit forcible migration and destruction of private properties. PCHR remains concerned for the failure of the international community to provide protection for Palestinian civilians and their properties.
PCHR calls upon:
- The international community to immediately intervene to provide protection for the Palestinian civilian population.
- The High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention to take concrete steps to stop Israeli attacks, which have recently escalated.
- The High Commissioner for Human Rights to immediately visit the Occupied Palestinian Territories to watch violations of human rights perpetrated by Israeli occupying troops against Palestinian civilians.
- Humanitarian organizations to provide immediate assistance for victims of violations of international humanitarian law perpetrated by Israeli occupying troops against Palestinian civilians.
Note: For more details on this Israeli offensive on the northern Gaza Strip, see press releases issued by PCHR between Thursday, 30 September, and Saturday, 2 October 2004, and photographs shown on PCHR’s web page.