Dropping bombs on densely populated civilian neighborhoods and saying "We're sorry" – again

July 14, 2006

In News

Press Release
Reference: 74-2006

The IOF committed a flagrant massacre this morning, targeting a two story home in a highly densely populated area. 9 Palestinian civilians were killed and 37 injured, 3 of whom sustained critical injuries; 10 houses were partially destroyed.

According to preliminary investigations by Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights, on July 12 2006 at approximately 2:45am, Israeli fighter jets fired two rockets at the house of Dr. Nabil Abd Al Latif Abu Sleima, totally destroying the house and killing Dr. Abu Sleima and 8 members of his family. 37 other civilians were reported injured.

The Center’s fieldworkers reported that the identification of victims was difficult as their bodies were blown into pieces and body parts were strewn around the scene of the attack. One survivor, Awad Nabil Abd Al Latif Abu Sleima, 19, reported that the persons inside the house at the time of the attack included:

1. Nabil Abd Al Latif Abu Sleima, 46

2. Salwa Abu Sleima, 42

3. Basma Nabil Abu Sleima, 16

4. Somaia Nabil Abu Sleima, 14

5. Huda Nabil Abu Sleima, 12,

6. Iman Nabil Abu Sleima Abu Sleima, 11

7. Yehia Nabil Abu Sleima, 9

8. Aya NAbil Abu Sleima, 7

9. Nasrallah Nabil Abu Sleima, 4

Most of the injured were buried under the rubble and others were wounded with bone shrapnel flying from the bodies of the victims of the attack. 3-year-old Isra’a Mohammed Abd Al Ghaffar Abbas was injured by bone shrapnel in the head. Further, Husam Mohammed Hammad, 7, survived but barely escaped death when he was removed from the debris.

The IOF claim that the attack was targeting Hamas members. Al Mezan emphasizes that no one was killed in the targeted house except members of the Abu Sleima family. The Center denounces the justifications made by the IOF, for the shelling of a civilian house in a densely populated area, of killing wanted Hamas members. Al Mezan asserts that this attack constitutes a grave breach of international humanitarian law. It also emphasizes that extrajudicial assassinations, and the targeting of Palestinian civilians and civilian establishments are war crimes.

The Center points out that Palestinian civilians have become a target for the IOF. On June 9, the IOF fired missiles at the Ghalia family who were at the beach, and killed 7 family members. Further, on June 21, they shelled the house of the Ahmed family, killing 3, and on July 8 they shelled the house of the Hajjaj family, killing a mother and her two children.

This massacre is reminiscent of the 2002 Al Darraj massacre perpetrated by the war criminal Dan Halutz, when he was the commander of the Israeli air forces. On 22 July 2002, he gave orders to shell a residential area in the densely populated Al Darraj neighbourhood with a 1- ton missile. Tens of people were killed and tens of houses were destroyed. Halutz is now IOF Chief of Staff, and has repeated once again the same crime.

Al Mezan gravely condemns the outrageous escalation of the IOF offensive which is targeting Palestinian civilians. The Center emphasizes that Israel’s policy of extrajudicial assassinations is a war crime according to international humanitarian law, particularly the 4th Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, and the Hague regulations.

Al Mezan reaffirms that the silence of the international community encourages Israel to commit further crimes, making Israel a state above the law.

Thus, Al Mezan calls upon the international community particularly the high contracting parties of the 4th Geneva Conventions to urgently intervene and provide international protection to the Palestinian civilians in the OPT, halt the Israeli violations against Palestinians and bring the perpetrator of these crime before justice.