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May 7, 2001
Press release: Details: baby girl killed, school attacked



Press Release

Four-month-old infant is killed; 20 wounded in indiscriminate shelling in Khan Yunis:

Date: May 7, 2001

In a serious escalation in Israeli war crimes and killings, at approximately 11:10 local time today, Israeli occupation forces started to indiscriminately fire artillery shells and heavy and medium caliber bullets at several neighborhoods in Khan Yunis. As a result, a four-month-old infant was killed after her family's house was hit with an artillery shell. In addition, 20 Palestinian civilians, including medical personnel and school children, were wounded.

PCHR's field officer in Khan Yunis reported that at approximately 11:10 local time, the Israeli occupation forces suddenly and unjustifiably began firing artillery shells at Palestinian residential neighborhoods in Khan Yunis. The shelling lasted for 50 minutes, during which time 30 artillery shells fell onto Al-Satar Al-Gharbi area, the west of Khan Yunis refugee camp, Al-Nemsawi (the Austrian) neighborhood and Al-Amal neighborhood. The artillery shells were fired from Israeli occupation forces military sites near Gani Tal settlement, northwest of Khan Yunis, Neve Dekalim settlement, west of Khan Yunis and Al-Tuffah roadblock, as well as another two sites west of Al-Amal neighborhood and Khan Yunis refugee camp.

A four-month-old infant, Iman Mohammed Hejju, was killed while in the arms of her mother who was escaping her house with her children when she heard sounds of shelling. An artillery shell hit Iman in the back and instantly killed her. Furthermore, her mother Samia Mohammed Hejju, 39, was critically wounded with shrapnel throughout the body. She was evacuated to the intensive care unit at Nasser hospital. In addition, the mother's sister Suzan, 21, was seriously wounded with shrapnel throughout the body. Her younger sister, Dunia, 6, was wounded with shrapnel in the arms and her brother, Mahmoud, was seriously wounded with shrapnel in the abdomen.

Twenty Palestinian civilians, mostly children and women, were evacuated to Nasser hospital and the Palestine Red Crescent Society hospital in Khan Yunis after they were wounded with shrapnel. PCHR's field officer in Khan Yunis reported that a number of school children were wounded on their way home. People were terrified, and a number of children fainted.

Moreover, a three-story house near Khan Yunis elementary school, owned by Ahmed Ismail Abu Mustafa was hit with three artillery shells that partially destroyed the second and third floors. Shell shrapnel was dispersed in the elementary school, injuring the 12-year-old child Akram Menwer Abu Mousa, throughout the body. Dozens of students fainted and suffered nervous break-downs.

Another shell exploded near a the Palestine Red Crescent Society ambulance. As a result, its driver Hamed 'Abdel-Karim Abu Qouta, 51, from Khan Yunis was injured with shrapnel in the nose while offering assistance to the wounded in Khan Yunis refugee camp. The ambulance, which was clearly marked, was severely damaged.

Dozens of houses, some more than 500m away from Israeli occupation forces military sites, were severely damaged. This included 'Adel El-Agha's house in Al-Satar Al-Gharbi area which was hit with four artillery shells.

PCHR views with extreme concern this serious escalation in war crimes and breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 by the Israeli occupation forces. PCHR calls upon the international community and the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention to cease their silence and immediately intervene to put an end to Israeli crimes against Palestinian civilians and their property and to force Israel to comply with its obligations under the Convention. PCHR asserts that the current situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories necessitates an immediate international acceptance of Palestinian calls for an international protection force for Palestinian civilians.