Israeli military demolishes a family home, injuring 9 civilians
Date: 3 September 2002
On Tuesday morning, 3 August 2002, Israeli occupying forces moved into al-Salam neighborhood in Rafah and began demolishing a family home over its residents without any prior warning. Israeli forces also prevented neighbors from offering help to the wounded who were able to escape from the demolished home.
According to PCHR’s investigation, at approximately 05:00, nine tanks and armored personnel carriers and a bulldozer of the Israeli occupying forces moved approximately 200m into al-Salam neighborhood in Rafah, adjacent to the Palestinian-Egyptian border. The Israeli bulldozer began demolishing Fayez ‘Ali Mohammed Abu Hussein’s house while its inhabitants were sleeping. In his testimony to PCHR, Abu Hussein said:
“At approximately 05:00, I woke up hearing sounds of Israeli heavy military vehicles around my house in al-Salam neighborhood, adjacent to the Palestinian-Egyptian border in the south of Rafah. Immediately, I went to my childrens bedroom to wake them to leave the house. My house was located approximately 100m away from the border. My wife also woke the rest of the family, comprised of 12 persons. As soon as we moved to leave the house, the Israeli bulldozer demolished the southeastern side of the house. It demolished walls and the asbestos roof fell onto some of my children. When I was at the door of the house, I could see an Israeli tank surrounded by Israeli soldiers. I screamed at them saying: ‘you are demolishing my house over my children; stop it.’ An Israeli soldier asked me my name and ordered me to move towards the tank, which was approximately 20m away from the house. I did not obey their order and ran back towards my house to evacuate my children who were under the collapsing walls. I called on neighbors to help me save my family. When some neighbors tried to offer help, Israeli soldiers fired at them. I saw my sons Jihad, 20, and Ahmed, 17, who were injured, escaping. Neighbors again attempted to offer us help, but Israeli tanks fired at them. Nevertheless, one of my relatives, Hussam ‘Abdul ‘Aal, was able to reach the house. He was able to remove my 2-year-old child Manal from under the debris of the house, while I could carry my wife who was injured in the foot. Israeli forces continued to fire at whoever tried to evacuate my family. Only one hour later, a number of my neighbors and relatives were able to reach the house and evacuate all of my family. We were all taken to hospital in an ambulance and a number of civilian cars.”
According to medical sources at Martyr Abu Yousef al-Najjar Hospital in Rafah, nine members of the family, who were wounded, were evacuated to the hospital:
1. Bahjat Fayez Abu Hussein, 20, wounded in the head, the right shoulder, the chest and the left hand;
2. Ahmed Fayez Abu Hussein, 17, wounded in the hands;
3. Majeda Radwan Abu Hussein, 42, wounded in the feet;
4. Nour Fayez Abu Hussein, 11, wounded in the head;
5. Hanan Fayez Abu Hussein, 3, wounded in the abdomen and the right foot;
6. Manal Fayez Abu Hussein, 2, wounded in the feet;
7. Insherah Fayez Abu Hussein, 13, suffering from shock;
8. Fadwa Fayez Abu Hussein, 15, suffering from shock; and
9. Sabah Fayez Abu Hussein, 12, suffering from shock.
Another house, owned by Nidhal ‘Abdullah al-‘Emwasi, was also partially demolished in the incident this morning. Abu Hussein and his family had been forced to evacuate the original family home on 2 May 2002, when Israeli occupying forces demolished it together with 11 other houses in al-Salam neighborhood. He was forced to move to another house which was then demolished this morning.
PCHR condemns this Israeli assault, which constitutes a war crime under international humanitarian law. PCHR asserts that the silence of the international community has encouraged the Israeli government to demolish more houses of Palestinian civilians, rendering thousands homeless. PCHR expresses its deep concern about this continuous silence of the international community and:
1. It calls for the immediate provision of international protection for Palestinian civilians.
2. It calls upon the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 to take concrete steps to halt war crimes committed by the Israeli occupying forces.
3. It calls on the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to immediately visit the Occupied Palestinian Territories to document war crimes and violations of political, civil, economic, social and cultural rights perpetrated by Israeli occupying forces against Palestinian civilians.
4. It calls upon humanitarian organizations to provide immediate and urgent assistance for victims of human rights violations perpetrated against Palestinian civilians and their property.