Ref: 01/2009

Date: 02 January  2009

Time: 13:00 GMT

 

IOF Offensive on the Gaza Strip Continues for the 7th Consecutive Day;

Dr. Nizar Rayan Assassinated with His 4 Wives and 11 of His Children, and the Number of Victims Rises to 357, Mostly Civilians, Including 51 Children and 14 Women

For the 7th consecutive day, Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) have continue its open offensive on the Gaza Strip. Using their most powerful destructive arsenal, IOF have continued to target civilian facilities, mosques, schools and houses, with disregard to the lives of the Palestinian civilians. During the latest hours, the most brutal crime committed by IOF in the Gaza Strip was the extra-judicial execution of Dr. Nizar Rayan, a senior leader of the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas), together with his 4 wives and 11 of his children. This heinous crime reminds of the extra-judicial execution of Sheikh Salah Shehada at al-Daraj Neighborhood in Gaza City on 23 July 2002, that resulted in the killing of Shehada, his wife, his child and more than 15 civilians, mostly children. In both crimes, IOF were aware of the presence of large numbers of civilians in the targeted populated houses. Such attacks constitute war crimes, whose perpetrators and their military and political leaders must be prosecuted.

According to investigations conducted by PCHR and according to testimonies by eyewitnesses, at approximately 14:30 on Thursday, 1 January 2009, IOF warplanes fired several missiles towards the house of Dr. Nizar ‘Abdul Qader Mohammed Rayan, 49, near al-Khulafaa’ al-Rashedin Mosque in Jabalya Refugee Camp in Northern the Gaza Strip. The missiles destroyed the 5-storey house, and Dr. Rayan was killed together with his 4 wives who are: Hiam ‘Abdul Rahman Rayan, 46; Iman Khalil Rayan, 46; Nawal Isma’il Rayan, 40; and Sherine Sa’id Rayan, 25. In addition, 11 of Dr. Rayan’s children were killed in the same attack: As’ad, 2; Usama Ibn Zaid, 3; ‘Aisha, 3; Reem, 4; Miriam, 5; Halima, 5; ‘Abdul Rahman, 6; Abdul Qader, 12; Aaya, 12; Zainab, 15; and Ghassan, 16.

Also in Northern the Gaza Strip, at approximately 15:30 on the same day, IOF warplanes bombarded a site of the Nasser Saladin Brigades (the armed wing of the Popular Resistance Committees) near al-Nada towers. As a result, al-Mu’ez Le Din Allah Jihad al-Nasla, 2, and his sister ‘Oyoun, 16, were killed while they were on their way to shop. Additionally, 40 civilians, including 27 children, were wounded. Earlier, in the morning, IOF warplanes bombarded a house belonging to Fatema Salah Isma’il Salah, 42, west of Jabalya police station. The woman who was inside the house was killed as a result. In the evening, IOF bombarded a crowd of civilians in al-Amal neighborhood in the east to Jabalya town. As a result, 18 civilian, including 9 children. On Friday afternoon, 2 January 2008, Fadi Shabat, 24, who was wounded in the attack, was pronounced dead.

At approximately 09:30 also on Friday, IOF bombarded the house of Nafez Mohammed al-Mutawar, 51, in Gaza Street in Jabalya. Al-Mtawar was killed and 50 civilians were wounded.

In Gaza City and its suburbs, in the past 24 hours, IOF warplanes bombarded 8 populated houses and a family meeting hall, which were all completely destroyed. No casualties were reported as a result of the attacks on the populated houses; however, 3 civilians were wounded in the attack on the meeting hall that belongs to al-Dairi Family, where a condolence house was set up. Also on Friday, in the northern Gaza Strip, 11 houses were completely destroyed when they were targeted by IOF warplanes. In addition, dozens of neighboring houses were partially destroyed because of the heavy explosions. In addition, IOF bombarded al-Khulafa’a al-Rashedin Mosque, al-Salam Mosque, the Society of Indigenes, 3 shops and 2 workshops. As a result of Friday’s bombardments in the northern Gaza Strip 4 civilians, including 2 children and a woman, were killed. In the central Gaza Strip, IOF bombarded 6 populated houses and 2 crowds of civilians. As a result, 2 civilians, including a child, were killed, and 22 people, mostly civilians, were wounded. Three houses in Rafah were bombarded by IOF warplanes and 5 civilians were wounded as  a result. In Khan Yunis, a house was bombarded by IOF warplanes. Thus, the number of houses that have been targeted and destroyed by IOF warplanes since the beginning of the ongoing offensive on the Gaza Strip has mounted to 66.

Since the beginning of the ongoing offensive on the Gaza Strip, Israel has claimed that it does not target civilian facilities. However, PCHR’s investigations refute these allegations, and prove that IOF, by explicit orders from their political and military leaders, have used excessive lethal force and that the majority of targets have been civilian and public facilities and private property that are located in the middle of overpopulated residential neighborhoods, endangering the lives and possessions of the civilian population. Moreover, PCHR’s investigations affirm that all the casualties  that have been caused during the last hours of IOF successive and intensive raids have been civilians. Heavy damages have been incurred to houses in the surroundings of the directly targeted houses and facilities. Under the current siege, it is impossible to repair houses that have been destroyed or to which damages have been incurred. This means that hundreds of Palestinian families will be homeless under the current bitter cold weather.

Thus, the number of Palestinians killed since the beginning of the IOF offensive on the Gaza Strip has mounted to 375, mostly unarmed civilians, including 51 children and 14 women. Additionally, hundreds of Palestinians have been wounded.

In light of crimes committed by IOF against the Palestinian civilian population and property in the Gaza Strip, PCHR:

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).