On Friday, 24 January 2003, Israeli occupying forces, under the cover of heavy land and aerial bombardment, encroached into Beit Hanoun and Rafah in the Gaza Strip. They destroyed a number of Palestinian houses and civilian facilities. A Palestinian civilian was killed and 14 others were injured, 4 main bridges in Beit Hanoun were destroyed and more than 10 houses in Rafah were destroyed.
According to PCHR's investigations, at approximately 09:00 on Friday, 4 Israeli heavy military vehicles, including a bulldozer, moved, from the Erez crossing, in the northern Gaza Strip, more than 3km into the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Hanoun. Israeli forces, covered by intense shelling and supported by helicopters, blocked the main road leading to the town. At approximately 17:30, Israeli military reinforcements were brought to the area. They blocked all roads leading to the town, while Israeli combat helicopters intensely shelled the town. At approximately 19:00, Israeli occupying forces planted bombs on the main bridge leading to the town and destroyed it. Until 03:00 on Saturday, 25 January 2003, Israeli forces destroyed 3 other bridges, causing severe damage to dozens of adjacent Palestinian houses.
Israeli combat helicopters opened fire at a number of Palestinian boys who were throwing stones at the Israeli forces. Hassan Yousef Hassan Fayadh, 18, was killed by several live bullets, and 11 others were wounded, 2 of them seriously. In addition, 3 civilians were wounded by the Israeli shelling.
Also on Friday, at approximately 13:30, Israeli occupying forces, reinforced with heavy military vehicles and covered by intense shelling, moved approximately 200m into Block O in Rafah refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip. They demolished 14 Palestinian houses totally and 5 other houses partially. In addition, 2 Palestinian civilians were wounded by the Israeli shelling.
PCHR strongly condemns these actions against Palestinian civilians and their property. PCHR reminds all High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention of their legal obligation not only to respect the Convention themselves, but also to ensure respect for it. This includes the international community taking effective steps to stop violations of the Convention, which, in this case, are perpetrated by Israeli occupying forces.