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Israel's Offensive in Gaza: 23 Palestinians Killed and 86 Wounded
Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) have continued their military operations in the Gaza Strip for the fifth consecutive day in a manner unprecedented for several months. They have intensified air attacks targeting civilian facilities and paramilitary sites mostly of Hamas and the Executive force of the Palestinian Ministry of Interior. IOF claim that these attacks have come in response to launching home-made rockets at Israeli towns. According to investigations conducted by PCHR, IOF have used excessive lethal force without any consideration to the principles of necessity and proportionality and in disregard to the lives of Palestinian civilians. Since Wednesday evening, 23 Palestinians, including nine civilians, have been killed and 86 others, including 31 civilians, have been wounded. In addition, five civilian facilities and several paramilitary sites have been destroyed and dozens of houses have been heavily damaged.
Attacks by IOF in a chronological order:
# At approximately 13:00 on Wednesday, 16 May 2007, IOF warplanes attacked a site of the Executive Force of the Palestinian Ministry of Interior. Three members of the Executive Force were killed: Najeh Khalil Abu Fakher, 32; Lutfi Lutfi al-Barahma, 28; and Hammad Hasan Mebrad, 23. In addition, 37 persons, including two journalists and a bystander, were wounded.
# On Wednesday evening, IOF warplanes shelled a deserted house in Jabalya town in the northern Gaza Strip, killing two members of the 'Izziddin al-Qassam (the armed wing of Hamas): Rami Subhi Zaqzouq, 30; and Mohammed Fawzan Abu Jasser, 25.
# On Thursday morning, 17 May 2007, IOF moved into various areas in the northern Gaza Strip. They raided a number of houses in Beit Lahia town and transformed them into military sites, from which they fired at whatever moved. IOF later expanded their incursion to include parts of Beit Hanoun and Jabalya towns. IOF seized control over several areas in the northern Gaza Strip and opened fire indiscriminately.
# At approximately 14:10 also on Thursday, IOF warplanes shelled a site of the Executive Force near Palestine Stadium in the densely populated center of Gaza City. A member of the Executive Force, 21-year-old Mohammed 'Abdullah al-Ghefari, was killed, and 21 persons, including 11 civilians, were wounded.
# At approximately 16:00 also on Thursday, an IOF warplane fired a missile at a civilian car, which was traveling on al-Jalaa' Street in the north of Gaza City. A member of the 'Izziddin al-Qassam Brigades, who was traveling in the targeted car, was seriously wounded. Four civilian bystanders, including two children, were also wounded.
# At approximately 16:30 also on Thursday, an IOF warplane shelled a room used by the guards of the house of Khaled Abu Hilal, the spokesman of the Palestinian Ministry of Interior, in the center of Gaza City. One of the guards, 30-year-old Tal'at 'Abed Haniya, was killed, and four others were wounded.
# At approximately 19:00 also on Thursday, an IOF warplane fired two missiles at members of the al-Loulahi family who were near a garbage treatment plant near Sofa crossing, northeast of Rafah. Two members of the family were killed: Mohammed Suleiman Selmi al-Loulahi, 13; and his brother Yousef, 18. Additional their brother and sister were wounded: Samah, 20; and Ahmed, 12. The father attempted to offer them help and evacuate them in his car. He was not able to call for medical crews, so he traveled in his car to bring help. When he arrived at Sofa intersection, nearly 200 meters away from the place of the attack, an IOF warplane fired a missile at his car. He was wounded. A car that passed in the area evacuated him to a hospital. Medical crews then moved towards the area of the main attack and evacuated the victims to the hospital.
# At approximately 02:30 on Friday, 18 May 2007, IOF warplanes fired three missiles at a site of the 'Izziddin al-Qassam Brigades in al-Zaytoun neighborhood in the east of Gaza City. As a result, four members of the brigades and a civilian bystander, who attempted to offer help to the victims, were killed:
1) Hatem 'Omar al-'Amarin, 25, a civilian bystander;
2) Saleh Mohammed 'Ata Juha, 30;
3) Ahmed Rushdi Siam, 28;
4) Ahmed Saleh Siam, 30; and
5) Waleed Hashem al-Hajin, 29.
In addition, four members of the brigades and two civilian bystanders were wounded.
# At approximately 18:30 also on Friday, an IOF warplane fired a missile at a minibus that was traveling in al-Jesser Street in the north of Gaza City. Two members of the 'Izziddin al-Qassam Brigades, who were traveling in the car, were killed:
1) Ra'ed 'Aatef Habeeb, 29; and
2) Muneer 'Omar al-Jammal, 30.
# At approximately 20:30 also on Friday, an IOF warplane fired a missile that fell near Dar al-Arqam School in the northwest of Sheikh Radwan neighborhood in Gaza City. Four Palestinians civilians, including a child, were wounded.
# At approximately 20:40, an IOF warplane fired a missile at a car in al-Twam neighborhood in the west of Beit Lahia town. Two Palestinian civilian bystanders were wounded.
# At approximately 00:50 on Saturday, 19 May 2007, an IOF warplane fired a missile at Abu Halima Iron Company in the densely populated al-Shojaeya neighborhood in the east of Gaza City. The company was destroyed and four civilians were wounded. A number of neighboring houses were also damaged.
# At approximately 01:50 also on Saturday, an IOF warplane fired a missile at al-Bayan Company for Trade and Contractions in the densely populated al-Zaytoun neighborhood in the east of Gaza City. The building was heavily damaged.
# At approximately 11:00 also on Saturday, an IOF warplane fired a missile at a number of Palestinian shepherds in al-Zaytoun area in the southwest of Beit Hanoun. Two shepherds were instantly killed and a third one was seriously wounded and died later: Sameer 'Abdul Fattah Abu Motee', 19; Mohammed 'Abdul Fattah Abu Motee', 16; and Maher Hamad Abu Hasheesh, 15.
# On Saturday evening, IOF shelled houses in Beit Hanoun town. Three Palestinian children, who were playing near their house, and a woman and her son, who were inside their house, were wounded.
# At approximately 23:15 also on Saturday, an IOF warplane fired a missile at the cemetery of Jabalya refugee camp. A child was walking in the area, 16-year-old Hatem Mahdi Mohammed Hmaid, was killed.
# At approximately 03:00 on Sunday, 20 May 2007, an IOF warplane fired a missile at a civilian car that was traveling in al-Sahaba Street in the center of Gaza City. A member of the 'Izziddin al-Qassam Brigades and two civilians who were traveling in the care were killed:
1) Mohye al-Din Mohammed al-Serhi, 30;
2) 'Emad 'Abdul 'Aziz 'Aashour, 35; and
3) Jamal Khalil Mannaa', 51.
Also on Sunday morning, IOF warplanes shelled two workshops in Nusairat refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip and a shop of sonic sets in Beit Hanoun town. No casualties were reported, but the targeted civilian facilities were heavily damaged.
IOF also carried out six air raids at training sites and gatherings of activists of Hamas in the north and center of the Gaza Strip, but no casualties were reported.
PCHR is deeply concerned over this latest escalation in attacks by IOF, and:
1) Condemns these latest crimes which are part of a serious 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 extra-judicial executions adopted by IOF against Palestinian activists, and asserts that this policy serves to increase tension in the region and threaten 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).