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13 killed in 6th day of Gaza offensive
Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) have continued their military operations in the Gaza Strip for the sixth consecutive day. In the past 24 hours, 13 Palestinians, have been killed and 12 others, including seven children, have been wounded. On Sunday, 20 May 2007, eight Palestinians, including seven ones from one family, were killed and three others were wounded when an IOF air raid targeted a meeting hall belonging to the family in Gaza City. In addition, a man and his five children, including a disabled one, were wounded when IOF shelled their house in the northern Gaza Strip. In the early morning of Monday, 21 May 2007, a child was killed and three were wounded when an IOF air raid targeted a workshop in Gaza City. On Monday afternoon, four members of the al-Quds Brigades (the armed wing of the Islamic Jihad) were killed when an IOF warplane attacked the car in which they were traveling. Since the beginning of this latest IOF offensive on the Gaza Strip, 36 Palestinians, including 18 civilians, have been killed and 97 others, including 44 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 21:15 on Sunday, 20 May 2007, an IOF warplane fired a missile at a meeting hall belonging to the al-Haya family in al-Shojaeya neighborhood in the east of Gaza City. The missile directly hit the hall, killing seven members of the family (two brothers; a man and his child; a man and his son; and a relative) and an activist of Hamas. In addition, three civilians, including two brothers, were wounded. The meeting hall is adjacent to the house of Dr. Khalil Imsa'il al-Haya, Member of the Palestinian Legislative Council an a prominent leader of Hamas, who was not at home at the time of the attack as he was supervising the implementation of the agreement between Fatah and Hamas movements end internal fighting. Those who were killed in the attack were identified as:
1) Sameh Saleh Farawana, an activist of Hamas ;
2) 'Alaa' Nember al-Haya, 21, an activist of Hamas;
3) Nember Isma'il al-Haya, 65;
4) 'Abdul Majeed Isma'il al-Haya, 53;
5) Jihad 'Abdul Majeed al-Haya, 17;
6) Ibrahim Mohammed al-Haya, 30;
7) Isma'il Khaled al-Haya, 19; and
8) Mohammed Khaled al-Haya, 16.
At approximately 22:25 also on Sunday, IOF fired a number of artillery shells at Palestinian houses in the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Lahia. One of those shells hit a house belonging to Ameen Fawzan al-Masri. The house was heavily damaged and the man and his five children were wounded: Hamza, 17, physically disabled; Asmaa', 15; Asia, 13; Israa', 12; and 'Udai, 7. Three hours prior to this attack, an artillery shell hit the second floor a house, in which 12 people live, in the center of the densely populated Jabalya refugee camp, but no casualties were reported as the residents were in the first floor.
At approximately 00:20 on Monday, 21 May 2007, an IOF warplane fired two missiles at a brick factory belonging to a member of Hamas in al-Tuffah neighborhood in the east of Gaza City. As a result, Hamada Mahmoud al-Fayoumi, 15, a guard of the factory, was killed, and his brother, the owner of the factory and a third person were wounded.
At approximately 13:10 also on Monday, an IOF warplane fired a missile at a civilian car that was traveling near Sha'sa'a intersection to the east of Jabalya refugee camp. The missile hit the car directly, killing four members of the al-Quds Brigades (the armed wing of the Islamic Jihad) who were traveling in it:
1) Mahmoud 'Aadel 'Awadh, 24, from Rafah;
2) Majed Salman al-Batash, 24, from Gaza City;
3) Mohammed Fawzi Abu Ne'ma, 25, from Gaza City; and
4) 'Abdul 'Aziz Mohammed al-Hilu, 21, from Gaza City.
PCHR is deeply concerned over this latest escalation in attacks by IOF, 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 extra-judicial 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).