Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) have continued their military operations in the Gaza Strip for more than three weeks. On Friday, 1 June 2007, IOF killed two Palestinian children and wounded a third one in the northern Gaza Strip, and extrajudicially executed a member of the Islamic Jihad in the south. Since the beginning of this latest IOF offensive on the Gaza Strip, 55 Palestinians, including 23 civilians, have been killed and dozens of others, mostly civilians, have been wounded. PCHR is deeply concerned over the policy of retaliation practiced against Palestinian civilians, which threatens their lives, especially as IOF have continued to attack targets in civilian populated areas.
According to investigations conducted by PCHR:
At approximately 12:00 on Friday, 1 June 2007, an IOF infantry unit positioned on a wooden land in the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Lahia, nearly 100 meters away from the beach, opened fire at four Palestinian children, who were playing with kites near the beach. Three children were wounded, whereas the fourth one was able to escape. Two of the children were left in the area bleeding to death. According to the third child who was wounded, 16-year-old Mohammed Ibrahim al-‘Atawna, from Jabalya refugee camp, a kite fell near the area where IOF soldiers were hiding, and when they went to bring it, IOF soldiers opened fire at them. Soon after, the soldiers moved towards the children. They asked al-‘Atwana, who was wounded by a gunshot to the back, about the condition of the other two children who were wounded by several gunshots throughout their bodies. He told them that the children were in a critical condition. They left the two children bleeding to death in the area and evacuated al-‘Atawna to an Israeli hospital, where he had received medical treatment before he was transferred to a hospital in Beit Lahia. The two children who were killed were identified as: 1) Zaher Jaber Mohammed al-Majdalawi, 14; and
2) Ahmed Sabri Aba Zbaida, 14, both from Jabalya refugee camp. At approximately 20:30 also on Friday, an IOF aircraft fired two missiles at a Palestinian who was riding a bicycle in al-Shanaliya Street in the north of Khan Yunis. He was instantly killed. He was identifies as Fadi ‘Abdul Qader Abu Mustafa, 22, a member of the al-Quds Brigades (the armed wing of Islamic Jihad).
PCHR is deeply concerned over continuous IOF military operations in the Gaza Strip, and:
1) Condemns these latest crimes which are part of a series of continuous crimes committed by IOF in the Occupied Palestinian Territory in disregard for the lives of Palestinian civilians, considering them a form of collective punishment against the Palestinian civilian population in violation of Article 33 of the Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War.
2) Stresses that IOF do not pay attention to the principles of necessity and proportionality in using their full-fledged arsenal against members of the Palestinian resistance, who are sometimes present in densely populated areas.
3) Reiterates condemnation for the policy of extrajudicial executions adopted by IOF against Palestinian activists, and asserts that this policy serves to increase tension in the region and threatens the lives of Palestinian civilians.
4) Calls upon the international community to immediately intervene to stop such crimes, and calls upon the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War to fulfill their obligation under Article 1 of the Convention to ensure respect for the Convention in all circumstances, and their obligation under Article 146 to search for and prosecute those who are responsible for perpetrating grave breaches of the Convention, as such breaches constitute war crimes according to Article 147 of the Convention and the Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and Relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts (Protocol I).