At approximately 1.50pm on Friday 4 August 2009, Israeli soldiers positioned at the separation fence north east of Beit Hanoun town opened fired at Ghazi Az-Zaaneen, 14, as he was getting out of his father's car near their field which is situated east of Beit Hanoun town in the north of the Gaza Strip. This attack comes in the context of an escalation in Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip during the last two weeks. Meanwhile, Israel continues its tight siege, which has been imposed on Gaza since 2007.
According to Al Mezan Centre's investigations, Israeli soldiers positioned at the fence between Gaza and Israel, east of Beit Hanoun, opened fire at a car belonging to Maher Musa Az-Zaaneen. The car was parked approximately 600 meters from the fence. Soldiers opened fire at Maher's son, Ghazi Az-Zaaneen, 14, while he was getting out of the car. He was injured by a bullet to his head and taken to hospital. According to medical sources at Biet Hanoun Hospital, the child's condition was critical when he arrived at the hospital; therefore, he was referred to the intensive care unit at Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, where his death was pronounced in the evening hours on the next day - 5 August 2009.
This attack is part of an escalation by the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) of attacks on the Gaza Strip, including frequent firing at civilians and civilian property. Civilians living along the east and north of the Gaza Strip's border line with Israel and those living close to the border with Egypt have been particularly affected. The IOF also intensified its attacks on Palestinian fishermen. This escalation has been exacerbated by the tight Israeli siege imposed on Gaza Strip in violation of human rights standards and international law.
An example of this illegal closure policy is the refusal of the IOF to the allow entry of stationery into Gaza at the beginning of the new school year, causing shortages in notebooks and other items necessary for education. The IOF also continues to obstruct the entry into Gaza of construction and other raw materials despite an urgent need for them; especially after the last destructive Israeli military operation in Gaza in which IOF destroyed tens of thousands of shelters, and public and private facilities.
Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights strongly condemns the continued Israeli aggression and the perpetration of human rights violations in the Gaza Strip. In particular Al Mezan condemns the targeting of Palestinian children and civilians near the separation fence. The Centre also condemns the Israeli siege and collective punishment of Gaza's population. Al Mezan emphasizes that the silence of the international community and its failure to fulfill its obligations towards the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt) have only encouraged Israel to continue its violations of international law in oPt.
Al Mezan reiterates its call upon the international community to take prompt and effective action to end Israel's violations in the oPt; many of which constitute grave breaches of international humanitarian law. These violations include the construction of Jewish-only settlements in the occupied West Bank (including east Jerusalem); the construction of the Separation Wall, the collective punishment of Palestinian civilians, killing and maiming, forced evictions, and destruction of property. These practices must stop and their perpetrators must be held accountable.