In addition to Israeli occupation practices of imposing strict closures on the Gaza Strip, Israeli authorities have continued conducting extrajudicial assassinations and killings.
In the latest of these crimes on the evening of Monday 6th March 2006, five Palestinians, including three children, were killed.
This increases the number of those killed to 17 during six consecutive targeted assassinations.
At approximately 16.
55 on 6th March, according to field research conducted by Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights, Israeli fighter jets fired a rocket at a white jeep on Salah El Din St in El Tofah area of Gaza City.
This resulted in the killing of five Palestinians, including three children.
Those killed were 15 year- old Ahmed El Souwasy, 15- year old Mahmoud El Batch, 11- year old Riyad El Batch, 21- year old Monir Sokar and 25- year old Ashraf Shalof, all from Gaza City.
The shelling destroyed the vehicle and caused the injury of another 12 people, two of whom are reported to be in critical condition and six of whom are children.
Israeli Occupation Forces have accepted responsibility for this crime, but claim that the operation was aimed at targeting only two persons, alleged militants Shalof and Sokar.
Investigations by Al -Mezan reveal that two of the children killed were brothers, and two of the injured were the bothers of those killed.
The inquiry also concluded that the fact that the shelling took place in a highly populated area was the reason it resulted in such a high number of casualties.
Some of the children injured were playing in the area when the rocket struck, and another vehicle passing by was damaged.
Since the beginning of 2006, there has been a continuing escalation of Israeli assassinations and extrajudicial killings; 17 Palestinians have been killed by such attacks, and excessive use of force has led to the killing of 14 others.
The number of children killed as a result of the policy of assassinations and excessive use of force since the beginning of 2006 is 8.
This escalation comes as Israel continues to impose strict closures on the Gaza Strip, including the closure of Karni (Muntar) crossing, the principal trading point between Gaza and Israel.
The residents of Gaza are suffering from depleting supplies of food products and essential goods such as milk and flour.
This is in addition to the negative impact that the closures cause to the Palestinian economy by increasing the already high poverty and unemployment levels in the Gaza Strip.
The undersigned organizations hereby denounce the continuing escalation of Israeli policies that are unjustifiable under international law.
We emphasize that assassinations, extrajudicial killings and random shelling constitute war crimes in violation of international law, in particular the Fourth Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War.
We appeal to the international community, in particular the state signatories to the Geneva Conventions, to assume their legal and moral duties and take action to stop Israeli war crimes and to protect civilians in the occupied Palestinian territories; most importantly children.
We, the undersigned emphasize that IOF practices demonstrate Israel’s unwillingness to protect the civilian population of Gaza, especially children.
Israel is also displaying its lack of legal compliance with human rights law and international humanitarian law.
Furthermore, we emphasize that the closure policies and ongoing attacks on the Palestinian population show the continuing effective Israeli control over Gaza which remains an occupied territory, implying that Israel still has legal obligations with regards to the occupied Palestinian territories.