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Report by Al Mezan, republished in the Electronic Intifada, 28 April 2008

Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) killed four children and their mother when they shelled their home in Ezbet Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip today. Another man was killed in the attack which occurred during an IOF incursion in different parts of the town of Beit Hanoun. Al Mezan Center for Human Rights’ monitoring finds that the IOF stepped up their aggression on Gaza. In April 2008 alone, the IOF killed 66 Palestinians, 20 of whom were children and one was a woman. One hundred and thirty-nine others were injured, including 18 children. IOF launched 29 incursions into the Gaza Strip during the same period.

According to Al Mezan Center’s field investigations, at approximately 8:15am on 28 April 2008, IOF scouting drones fired two rockets that landed in front of the house of Ahmed Eid Abu Me’teq, which is located near Abdullah Azzam mosque in Ezbet Beit Hanoun. As a result, four children and their mother were killed, and their sister was wounded. One man was also killed. Those who were killed were identified as:

  • Five-year-old Saleh Abu Me’teq;
  • Four-year-old Rodina Abu Me’teq;
  • Three-year-old Hana’ Abu Me’teq;
  • One-year-old Mos’ad Abu Me’teq;
  • Their mother, 40-year-old Myassar Abu Me’teq; and
  • 40-year-old Ibrahim Hajouj.

Eleven other people were also injured, including four children. Five of the injured were reported to have sustained serious wounds.

Meanwhile, according to the Center’s monitoring, IOF’s incursion in the area continues. At approximately 6:00am on 28 April 2008, IOF ground troops, backed by 20 armored vehicles and drones, penetrated the vicinity of Beit Hanoun (Erez) Crossing. They took positions in the streets of al-Sultan Abdul Hamid and al-Shanti, and in the Thakanet al-Ghazalat, Talet al-Haowuz and Um al-Nasser areas. The IOF took combat positions and opened fire towards Ezbet Beit Hanoun, al-Seka and al-Sultan Streets in western Beit Hanoun.

The IOF’s incursion continues at the time of issuance of this release. At approximately 9:30am today, IOF tanks fired ten shells that landed in the vicinity of al-Nada and al-Awda Towers. One of the shells hit the fourth floor of building number four in al-Nada Towers; and another shell hit the seventh floor of building number seven in al-Awda Towers. No injuries were reported; however, the shelling caused damage to apartments in the two towers. The shelling also traumatized the residents, particularly children. At approximately 10:20am, also today, IOF drones fired one missile that landed in an open area in al-Wad Street in western Beit Hanoun, but no injuries or damages were reported.

This new IOF aggression comes as the siege imposed on the Gaza Strip continues. Al Mezan emphasizes that IOF’s conducts represent serious violations of the population’s human rights in a gross way that infringes upon the different aspects of their life.

Al Mezan Center for Human Rights condemns strongly the IOF’s brutal aggression and the escalation of arbitrary killing of civilians, especially children, in the Gaza Strip. This conduct has taken a systematic manner as IOF blatantly and indiscriminately targets residential buildings with artillery shells and guided missiles.

These conducts, in addition to the IOF’s collective punishment of the entire population of Gaza through the tight blockade that seriously infringes upon Gazans’ humanitarian conditions, constitute grave breaches of the rules of international humanitarian law (IHL) and are acts that must be investigated and whose perpetrators must be tried for war crimes and crimes against humanity under international law.

Al Mezan calls for immediate international action to end the siege of Gaza and alleviate the risks it poses on people’s lives and well-being. The siege threatens to stop hospitals and medical crews from operating at the very time when IOF escalate their acts of killing and maiming. Al Mezan also reiterates its warning about the consequences of the international community’s silence while the IOF conduct such grave breaches of IHL, especially after the Israeli government’s numerous statements threatening of more military attacks on Gaza.

Al Mezan calls on the international community to take urgent action to bring to an end the IOF’s crimes, and to provide protection for the civilian population of the Occupied Palestinian Territories. These acts represent part of the legal and moral obligations towards the civilians who live under control and occupation.

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