INDEPENDENT NEWS

Balata: Israel Invades Refugee Camp Shoots Dead 2

Published: Thu 18 Dec 2003 10:19 PM
IOF Invade Refugee Camp, Shoot Dead 2 Unarmed Palestinians
Occupation Army Demolishes 22 Houses, Makes 200 Civilians Homeless
Fifty armored vehicles of the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF), including tanks, invaded Balata refugee camp in the West Bank early Tuesday, a day after shooting dead two unarmed Palestinians and demolishing twenty two Palestinian buildings on Sunday, again rendering 200 Palestinians homeless, in Gaza Strip.
The invasion of Balatah refugee camp near the northern West Bank city of Nablus was backed up by two US-made Apache helicopter gunships, Palestinian sources said.
IOF troops seized four multi-storey buildings on the outskirts of the refugee camp and proceeded to carry out a house-to-house search with sniffer dogs, the sources added.
The IOF said it was a routine operation to arrest Palestinian activists, AFP reported.
At dawn the day before IOF soldiers in the Gaza Strip shot dead two unarmed Palestinians, claiming they were attempting to breach a fence and enter Israel.
Palestinian sources confirmed Monday that the IOF shot six Palestinians and killed two of them, namely Wae’l Saqer Abu Dahrouj and Yunis al-Bali, northeast of Beit Hanoon, north of Gaza Strip.
No arms were recovered near the two bodies, AFP reported.
The IOF claimed their troops spotted six "suspicious figures" near Gaza's perimeter fence shortly after midnight and fired on the men. Two were killed, while the other four managed to make it across the fence, the IOF added. One was later detained.
Separately on Sunday, with the media and world attention on the capture by American occupying forces in Iraq of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, the IOF demolished 22 homes in a Gaza refugee camp, making more than 200 people homeless.
The IOF claimed that the buildings in the Khan Yunis camp were uninhabited and used "by Palestinian terrorist cells to launch mortar bombs and fire missiles" at Israeli targets.
But preliminary investigations conducted by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) revealed that 178 Palestinian civilians (25 families) were left homeless. In addition, homes belonging to six families (approximately 40 civilians) have become uninhabitable.
PCHR reported that according to eyewitnesses, the victims “left their houses when they heard the Israeli military vehicles approaching the area. During the operation, a number of houses were partially damaged by the shelling and Israeli forces destroyed a Palestinian National Security Force post and severely damaged the civilian infrastructure in the camp.
“PCHR's field worker in Khan Yunis reported that 9 of the houses had previously been vacated by the inhabitants following repeated damage and shelling by Israeli forces. However, the houses were routinely checked by their owners.”
PCHR added that: "The extensive destruction to civilian property carried out wantonly and unlawfully without military necessity, constitutes grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention, …specifically article 33” thereof.
Hours earlier five Palestinians, including two children, were wounded in Israeli shelling of Khan Yunis.

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