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Ref: 119/2008

Date: 30 December 2008

Time: 12:15 GMT

 

On the 4th Day of IOF Offensive on the Gaza Strip, the Number of Palestinians Killed Mount to 310, Mostly Civilians, Including 37 Children and 9 Women

Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) have continued their offensive on the Gaza Strip for the fourth consecutive day. They have increasingly bombarded civilian facilities, mosques and houses, without paying attention to the lives and safety of Palestinian civilians. Israel claims that such civilian facilities, mosques and houses were related to Hamas, but investigations conducted by PCHR indicate that IOF have used excessive lethal force and that the majority of the facilities that have been targeted are public and private property located in densely populated areas, making Palestinian civilians pay a heavy price from their lives and property. All of the victims of recent attacks are civilians, and dozens of houses have been heavily damaged. Due to the current siege imposed on the Gaza Strip, the reconstruction or reparation of the houses that have been destroyed or damaged is extremely difficult. 

According to investigations conducted by PCHR, IOF have bombarded 23 houses since the beginning of the current offensive: 4 in Rafah; 4 in Khan Yunis, two in the central Gaza Strip; 9 in Gaza City; and 4 in the northern Gaza Strip. As a result of these attacks, 9 Palestinian civilians, including 5 children and two women, have been killed and 59 others have been wounded.

IOF have also bombarded 5 houses located in densely populated areas throughout the Gaza Strip: one in Khan Yunis; one in the central Gaza Strip; one in Gaza City; and two in the northern Gaza Strip. As a result of these attacks, 8 Palestinian civilians, including 5 children and a paramedic, have been killed and 34 others, including a number of children and women, have been wounded.

Additionally, IOF have bombarded 37 civilian facilities. IOF have bombarded the campus of Islamic University, two schools, 9 workshops and shops, an animal farm, 3 charities, al-Aqsa Satellite Television in Gaza City. IOF have bombarded two workshops, the building of the Municipality of Rafah and a warehouse of medicines in Rafah. In Khan Yunis, IOF have bombarded 3 workshops, one shop, a phone communication office and the building of the Municipality of Bani Suhaila village. In the central Gaza Strip, IOF have bombarded a workshop. In the northern Gaza Strip, IOF have bombarded 3 workshops and a control room of Palestine Telecommunication Company. As a result of these attacks, 11 Palestinian civilians, including 3 children, have been killed and 30 others have been wounded. A number houses located neat these facilities have been heavily damaged.

Thus, the number of Palestinians killed since the beginning of the IOF offensive on the Gaza Strip has mounted to 310, mostly civilians, including 37 children and 9 women. Additionally, hundreds of Palestinians have been wounded.

PCHR is extremely concerned over this unprecedented escalation by IOF, and: 

1)      Condemns these crimes, which are part of a series of continuous crimes committed by IOF in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) with total 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)      Holds Israel responsible for the lives of Palestinian civilians in all circumstances. Under the international law, the existence of armed resistance does not in any case justify the use of such excessive force disproportionately and indiscriminately.

3)      Warns that the lives of Palestinian civilians are endangered in light of threats vowed by Israeli political and military officials to expand military operations against the population of the Gaza Strip.

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, as well as 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).