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149 people killed since the start of the year

B'Tselem expressed its grave concern following the renewed fighting in Gaza. During the first 2 months of 2008, Israeli security forces killed 146 Palestinians in the Occupied Territories. 132 were killed in the Gaza Strip and 14 in the West Bank, according to B'Tselem statistics. Of the total number, at least 42 did not participate in the fighting when killed, and 11 were minors. 87 people were killed during January, and 59 during February (until the 28th).

Palestinians killed 2 Israeli civilians, and one member of the Israeli security forces. A woman was killed in a suicide bombing in Dimona, and another man was killed by a Qassam rocket in the Sapir College, in Sderot.

B'Tselem demands that all sides to the fighting strictly adhere to the rules of International Humanitarian Law, and do all they can to protect civilians from the impact of the hostilities. It is absolutely prohibited to direct attacks at civilians, and B'Tselem reiterates its condemnation of the firing of Qassam rockets at Israeli civilians. Directing attacks at civilians is a war crime, and those responsible must be punished for it. Israel has the right and the obligation to protect its citizens from Qassams, but it may only use legal means to achieve this goal.