Israel Kills 3 Palestinians, Destroy 120 Shops
By Yasser AbuMoailek
Middle East Correspondent
Gaza City, Feb. 29, 2004 — The Israeli forces continued the acts of collective punishment against the Palestinian people, ranging from armed robberies of their banks and ending with the assassination of three Palestinians and the destruction of about 120 shops in an industrial zone in Gaza Strip. Last night, an Israeli combat helicopter fired a missile at a white "Subaru" traveling down a Gaza street, killing the three Palestinians inside the car, and wounding 15 other bystanders, including a child in what doctors stated a "slow death." The three killed Palestinians were declared members of "Saraya Al Quds," the armed wing of the Islamic Jihad movement. They were identified as Mahmoud Jouda, Ayman and Amin Al Dahdouh, all residents of the Gaza Strip. Eyewitnesses said that the huge blast echoed through the city of Gaza, coupled with the hovering of helicopters overhead, as ambulances raced to reach the scene. "There were pools of blood everywhere around the car. I saw several young kids laying on the ground with blood covering their clothes. I could distinguish charred bodies inside the car, and smell the burning flesh that was coming from the fuming wreckage. I will never forget this horrific scene," said Abdullah Derawi, owner of a mechanic shop at the scene, as he spoke to ST correspondent on the phone.
|Palestinian police officers gather around the wreckage of the bombed car in Gaza City, as they attempt to recover the human remains inside. Courtesy AFP|
Officials at the local Al Shifa hospital said that at least three children were wounded in the attack, as the car was bombed in a densely populated neighborhood in the city. One of the children, a boy, was described by his treating doctors as "clinically dead and lives only on life-sustaining machines." Israeli military sources did not have an immediate comment on the attack, and declared they were still checking the report of the strike, according to media reports. The Israeli forces have often sent combat helicopters and jet fighters to bomb Palestinian resistance activists, and despite using top-notch weapons technology and attack tactics, the attacks always failed to avoid Palestinian civilian casualties and fatalities, especially among the women and children. Earlier on Friday, Israeli bulldozers guarded by tanks and armored vehicles invaded the industrial zone of the town of Beit Hanun, north of Gaza Strip, and demolished nearly 120 shops there, Palestinian security sources declared. The sources added that the bulldozers worked at least 120 shops and stores into rubble at the Beit Hanun Industrial Zone, which is adjacent to the Israeli "Eretz" military checkpoint, amidst heavy gunfire at Palestinian homes by the guarding tanks.
|A Palestinian citizen rushing a wounded child into the emergency ward of Al Shifa hospital. Courtesy AP|
Several shop owners denounced the massive attack on their properties, accusing the Israeli government of violating their rights and breaching the Fourth Geneva Convention. They also demanded to be paid compensations for the losses they incurred due to this brutal attack that has wrecked their shops and destroyed the merchandise inside. The Israeli forces have frequently used collective punishment measures against the Palestinian people, ranging from large-scale house demolitions, destroying entire markets and trade hubs, to the siege and closures of entire towns and cities for extended periods of time. Under the Fourth Geneva Convention, collective punishment is considered a war crime, as article 33 of the Convention states, "No protected person may be punished for an offense he or she has not personally committed," and "collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited." Israel continues to reject the Fourth Geneva Convention or the Additional Protocols applicability to the occupied Palestinian territories.
|A Palestinian boy making his way through the rubble of destroyed shops in Beit Hanun industrial zone north of Gaza Strip. Courtesy Reuters|
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Yasser AbuMoailek, a journalist and feature writer working for the International Press Center in Gaza Strip. He contributes to many circulations inlcuding the Seoul Times, as well as monitoring the situation in the Middle East, especially the Palestinian territories.