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Wade-scale Israel Offensive In Gaza Strip

In a Wide Scale Israeli Military Offensive on the Northern Gaza Strip,

15 Palestinian Killed, at least 120 Others Injured and Civilian Properties Destroyed

Israeli occupying troops have continued their wide scale offensive on the northern Gaza Strip for the 3rd consecutive day. At the time of going to print, 15 Palestinians, including 3 children, have been killed and at least 120 others were injured, some of them are in a serious condition. Israeli troops have also destroyed a number of houses and civilian facilities. Israeli troops have used excessive force against unarmed Palestinian civilians. According to Palestinian medical sources, most of the injured were hit in the upper part of the body. PCHR expresses deep concern for this intense presence of Israeli troops in the area, especially in Jabalya refugee camp which is one of the most populated areas in the Gaza Strip. PCHR is concerned as Israeli political and military officials stated that the Israeli military operations in the northern Gaza Strip would be expanded. This latest offensive on the northern Gaza Strip has been the third of its kind against the same area in the second half of this year. Previous offensives resulted in dozens of casualties among Palestinian civilians and destroyed large areas of agricultural land and many civilian facilities.

According to preliminary investigations conducted by PCHR, at approximately 22:00 on Tuesday, 28 September 2004, Israeli occupying troops, reinforced by heavy military vehicles and helicopters, launched a wide scale offensive on the northern Gaza Strip. They moved into area through three directions opening fire intensively.

At approximately 04:00 on Wednesday, 29 September 2004, Israeli troops positioned at al-Sikka Street, east of Jabalya refugee camp, fired an artillery shell at a number of members of the Palestinian resistance who clashed with those troops. One member of the resistance, Tawfiq Mohammed al-Sherafi, 24, was killed by shrapnel from the shell.

At approximately 07:00 on the same day, 15 Israeli military vehicles moved from Erez crossing towards Qulaibu hill in Tal al-Za'tar area. Israeli troops opened fire at the area and isolated it from its surroundings.

At approximately 07:25 on the same day, Israeli troops opened fire at dozens of Palestinian schoolchildren who threw stones at Israeli tanks near the directorate of education in Beit Lahia. One of the children, Sa'ed Mohammed Hiddu Abu al-'Eish, 14, from Jabalya refugee camp, was killed by a live bullet in the chest.

At approximately 09:00 on the same day, while Israeli military bulldozers were demolishing the fence of the building of the Palestinian Preventive Security Service in Beit Lahia, an electricity tower fell on a number of Palestinian children who gathered in the area. One of the children, Ahmed Ibrahim 'Abdul Fattah Madi, 14, from Jabalya refugee camp, was instantly killed.

In the evening, Israeli troops continued to shell Palestinian residential areas, especially in Jabalya refugee camp. At approximately 20:30, an Israeli helicopter gunship fired a missile at a number of members of the Palestinian resistance in the east of Jabalya refugee camp. One member of the resistance, Sa'ad Mohammed al-Barad'ei, 21, from Gaza City, was killed, and 2 others were seriously injured.

At approximately 23:30, an Israeli helicopter gunship fired a missile at a number of members of the Palestinian resistance in Tal al-Za'tar area. Two members of the resistance were killed:

1. Fathi Ahmed al-Sawawin, 21; and

2. Khalil Khalil Naji, 31, both from Gaza City.

On Thursday morning, 30 September 2004, Israeli troops moved towards Jabalya refugee camp. They were positioned in Block 2. They seized a number of houses and transformed their roofs into military sites. Israeli troops partially demolished a number of houses and destroyed fences of a number of UNRWA schools. The Israeli military operation expanded to include Block 4 in the camp. Israeli troops shelled the area intensively. Since the morning, clashes have erupted between Israeli troops and members of the Palestinian resistance. Six members of the resistance have been killed in these clashes:

1. Ra'fat Rafiq Jadallah, 25;

2. Sufian Shafiq Abu al-Jedian, 33;

3. Hamza Ahmed, 29;

4. Mohammed al-Masri, 29;

5. Mohammed 'Abdul Karim al-Ja'beer, 19; and

6. Hazem Hussein Farajallah, 24.

At approximately 11:50 on Thursday, Israeli troops positioned in Qulaibu hill opened fire at a number of Palestinian civilians in the east of Beit Lahia. One Palestinian civilian, Mohammed Yousef al-Habel, 65, was killed by a live bullet in the chest, when he was sitting in front of his shop. At noon, Israeli troops continued to shell Palestinian residential areas. A Palestinian child, who has not been so far identified, was killed by a live bullet in the heart. Another civilian, 'Aatef Jamal Rajab al-Ashqar, 27, from Beit Lahia, was killed by a live bullet in the head.

Also as result of the Israeli shelling during this latest continuous offensive, at least 120 Palestinians, mostly civilians, including 20 children, have been injured. Medical sources described the injuries of 10 of these Palestinians as serious.

PCHR remains gravely concerned for the latest escalation of Israeli military operations in the occupied Palestinian Territory (OPTs), especially in the Gaza Strip, and warns of retaliatory acts against Palestinian civilians and their properties, in violation of international law and humanitarian law. These Israeli military operations violate the Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of 1949 (Fourth Geneva Convention), particularly article 33 which prohibits collective punishment, and article 147, which classifies extensive destruction and appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly as a grave breach of the Convention, an act which is considered a war crime under article 85(5) of the Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions, an Relative to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts. PCHR reminds the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention of their legal obligations to ensure respect for the Convention and take concrete steps to stop grave breaches of the Convention perpetrated by Israeli occupying troops in the OPTs.

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