GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- A rights group on Wednesday called on the international community to protect Palestinian civilians after Israeli forces killed three farmers Sunday in northern Gaza.
On Sunday night Israeli forces fired shells at a 91-year-old man and two 16-year-olds as they grazed sheep in their land. Medical teams found the dead body of one of the teenagers and took it to hospital, but his head was not found until the next day.
The dead body of the elderly man was also taken to hospital, but the dead body of his grandson, Abu Es’ayid, 16, was not found for one hour after the attack. During the attack 43 goats were also killed, the Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights reported.
There are conflicting reports on the age of one of the two younger victims, with the Palestinian Center for Human Rights estimating the age at 17, while a medical representative at the time said one of the victims was 21.
An initial statement by the Israeli military said forces had identified a number of suspects attempting to fire an RPG toward an Israeli position in the Beit Hanoun area. Later, Brig.-Gen. Eyal Eisenberg said in a statement that while the investigations into the incident have not yet concluded "we understand from a re-creation that we undertook that the three casualties were not involved in act of terror."
Eisenberg said one of the men had apparently picked up a weapon hidden by a terrorist cell, leading forces to believe their lives were in danger.
The Al-Mezan Center condemned Israel's "flagrant violations" of international law, especially the Fourth Geneva Convention, which protects civilian populations in times of war.