Press release, Al Mezan, 12 January 2009
|A Palestinian is treated for burns at a hospital in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, 12 January 2009. (Hatem Omar/MaanImages)|
2:30pm Gaza Time (+2hrs GMT)
The Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) escalated its war on the Gaza Strip for the 17th consecutive day, during which it has acted in violation of the rules of international law relevant to conflict and belligerent occupation, motivated by the failure of the international community to stand for the principles and rules itself had set. There is evidence indicating the perpetration of grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Times of War.
IOF’s attacks on civilian targets, public infrastructure and border areas have brought about enormous destruction of private property and infrastructure, as well as unprecedented loss of life. According to Al Mezan’s careful monitoring, the IOF has killed at least 876 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip since the start of its Operation Cast Lead on 27 December 2008. This number includes at least 186 children and 61 women. This number is restricted to those whom Al Mezan has verified and double-checked. The Center estimates that between 200 and 240 children have been killed. Many of those have still been under the rubble of houses under areas under IOF’s invasion. Moreover, tens of children who were killed on the first day of the attacks have not yet been verified; therefore, the Center prefers to wait until they are accounted for properly. Six of those who were killed by IOF were ambulance crewmen, who were killed while trying to reach victims of IOF’s attacks. The number also includes three journalists and dozens of elderly people. Al Mezan estimates that at least 85 percent of the casualties were civilian non-combatants.
Moreover, at least 3,080 people have been injured and/or maimed during the same period. This number includes at least 634 children and 395 women.
During the IOF’s military operations, it directly targeted 172 houses with guided missiles and shells. However, the number of houses that have been completely destroyed in these attacks is at least 472 houses. Another 3,000 to 4,000 houses have been partially destroyed. The IOF also destroyed 38 mosques, 13 of which were directly and wantonly targeted. Thirty-nine schools were damaged, of which five (and one university) were directly targeted. IOF attacks also destroyed 42 public civilian facilities, including CBO offices and quasi-governmental institutions. Furthermore, it destroyed 107 privately-owned workshops and small industrial and commercial plants. IOF also destroyed 90 police and security installations and 25 sites that were used for military purposes by armed groups.
The above figures do not account for the attacks that targeted open areas and fields, or the dozens of bodies that remain under the rubble of in areas under IOF’s invasion, especially in eastern Gaza City, eastern Beit Lahia and Jabaliya as well as the eastern borders of Khan Younis, Rafah and the central Gaza district.
1. North Gaza District:
At approximately 2pm Saturday, 10 January Israeli aircrafts fired a missile at a group of young men in the al-Salatin area, west of Beit Lahia, killing Ahmad Ibrahim Juma, 25, and Umar Juma, 19.
At approximately 2:30pm also Saturday, IOF troops stationed in the town of Beit Hanoun opened fire at the al-Bora neighborhood, killing an 18-year-old girl, Nariman Abdul-Karim Abu Odeh from a live bullet to her chest.
At approximately 4:20pm Saturday, an Israeli drone fired a missile at a small crowd near Barrawi gas station in Beit Lahia, injuring a 40-year-old pregnant women; Wafa al-Masri, and another 24-year-old woman, Ghada al-Masri. The pregnant woman had to abort her fetus and had her leg amputated. The other woman had both her legs amputated.
At approximately 4:45pm Saturday, an Israeli aircraft fired a missile at the al-Sultan apartment compound in Jabaliya town. The compound’s residents started to evacuate it. However, IOF fired artillery shells at the entrance of the compound as people were evacuating, killing three of them, two of whom were children. They were identified as:
- Ali Kamal al-Nuthor, 12;
- Amer Kamal al-Nuthor, 15; and
- Shadi Fatho Ijneed, 27.
Another 11 people were injured, including one child.
At approximately 5:25pm Saturday, IOF troops stationed in Jabaliya fired eight artillery shells towards the eastern parts of the town. Al Mezan’s field worker reported that the shells were used for the first time. After hitting the ground, a light bounced from each shell, not very high from the ground. As they landed, they caused fires around it.
About 30 minutes later, an Israeli aircraft fired a missile into a crowd in Beit Lahia. One man was critically injured as a result. At 6:45pm, an aircraft fired a missile at the house of Nafiz al-Helu in northern Beit Lahia, killing two of its residents and injuring three, including a woman and a child. Those who were killed were identified as:
- Mohammed Nafiz al-Helu, 22; and (his sister)
- Amina Nafiz al-Helu, 18.
Two minutes after, aircraft fired missile at the Beit Lahia Park, destroying it.
At approximately 7:20pm Saturday, an Israeli aircraft fired a missile into a crowd of people who were sitting in front of a house in their neighborhood, killing three and injuring six, including a 2-month-old baby. Those who were killed were:
- Rami Jamal Salman, 21;
- Abdul-Muti Ratib Sulaiman, 20; and
- Sami Umar, 35.
At approximately 8:25pm Saturday, Israeli aircraft raided a house owned by the Rayyan family in Jabaliya, destroying it and damaging three neighboring houses. No casualties or injuries were reported in this raid.
At approximately 10:10pm Saturday, Israeli aircrafts raided the house of Waheed Ahmad in Jabaliya refugee camp. The house was destroyed and three neighboring houses damaged, however, no casualties or injuries were reported in this raid.
At approximately 2am on Sunday, 11 January 2009, an Israeli aircraft fired a missile into a crowd of residents of the al-Karama apartment complex, killing Ibrahim Ayish Salman, 25. When neighbors tried to help the victim, a second missile was fired at them, killing Ala Fathi Bashir, 40, and his 18-year-old son, Suhaib. Yet, when neighbors tried to help them, aircrafts fired a third missile, killing a 40-year-old woman, Lamias Hasan Bashir, and 75-year-old woman, Jamila Hassan Zyadeh. Four other people were injured in this attack.
At approximately 3:35am on Sunday, Israeli troops fired an artillery shell at the al-Karama area. The shell hit the house of Mohammed Khalaf and killed his cousins, Ibrahim Mohammed Khalaf, 35, and Bilal Yihia Khalaf. Twenty-five minutes later, an Israeli aircraft raided the house of Tawfiq Saqir, which is located near the Beit Lahia market. The house was destroyed completely and five neighboring houses were damaged.
At approximately 9:30 am on Sunday, 11 January 2009, an Israeli aircraft fired a missile into a crowd of children who were near the Olo al-Azm Mosque in the north of Beit Lahia, killing the four of them, three girls and a boy. They were identified as:
- Haitham Yasser Marouf, 12;
- Fatima Mohammed Marouf, 16;
- Khawla Ramadan Ghabin, 16; and (her sister)
- Samar Ramadan Ghabin, 14.
On the next day, the body 14-year-old Abdul-Rahma Ghabin was found, raising the casualties of this attack to five children. According to Al Mezan Center’s investigations, these children belong to families who had evacuated their homes and took shelter in the al-Fakhoura School, which was shelled by the IOF. They went back home with their parents to pick some clothing and other necessities and return to the shelter.
At 10am on the same day, medical sources at al-Shifa Hospital announced the death of 51-year-old Abdul-Hakim al-Sultan, who was injured inside his house in the al-Salatin areas western Beit Lahia.
At approximately 11:45am on Sunday, Israeli troops fired artillery shells at the al-Jurun neighborhood in Jabaliya. One shell hit the house of Khalid Abid, killing his 25-year-old son Khalid, and injuring 20-year-old daughter Shahira.
Later, at approximately 1:10pm Sunday, IOF troops fired artillery shells that hit houses in eastern Jabaliya, killing Hueesin Nazmi Abu Sultan, 40, inside his house.
At approximately 3:05pm on Sunday, Israeli troops fired artillery shells at the al-Bora neighborhood in Beit Hanoun, injuring a child inside her house. She was identified as Dalia Fareed Abu Odeh, 12. Another woman, Iman Sami Nusair, was injured.
At approximately 3:35pm on Sunday, Israeli troops fired artillery shells at eastern Jabaliya, killing a 12-year-old boy, Musab Abdul-Muhsin Khadir, and a 15-year-old girl, Amal Najeeb Alloush. Another five people were also injured.
At 4pm on the same day, the Emergency Administration at Kamal Udwan Hospital announced that four of its ambulances stopped as a result of the shortage in fuel.
At approximately 7:00pm on Sunday, Israeli troops fired artillery shells at the Masoud Street in Jabaliya town, killing a one-and-a-half-year-old girl, Tasnim Yasser al-Rafat, inside her house. Another young man, 19-year-old Mohammed Khadir, was also killed inside his house in the area.
Between 7:50pm Sunday and 4pm Monday, Israeli aircrafts raided three houses in Jabaliya and Beit Lahia, destroying them completely and damaging 12 houses. The targeted houses were owned by Ibrahim Lubad and Zyad al-Masri, from Beit Lahia, and Yousef Ghbeet from Jabalia.
At approximately 5am today, Monday 12 January 2009, medical sources announced the death of 33-year-old Said Mahmoud al-Amawi, who was injured in the IOF shelling of the al-Fakhora School [on 6 January].
At approximately 5:30am Monday, Israeli aircrafts raided the house of Ali al-Dhai in Jabaliya, destroying it completely. Six minutes later, aircrafts raided the house of Mahmoud Abu Matar in Beit Lahia, destroying it and damaging five houses near it. One hour later, they raided Sheikh Zayid town park, damaging it and many houses in its vicinity.
At approximately 7:35am Monday, Israeli troops fired artillery shells at houses in eastern Jabaliya and Beit Lahia, killing a 34-year-old woman, Afaf Hasan Juma, inside her house.
At approximately 7:40am Monday, Israeli aircrafts raided a farm in the al-Nuzha Street in Jabaliya town, injuring three girl children.
At approximately 7:35am Monday, Israeli aircrafts raided the house of Sadi al-Jamal in Jabaliya, destroying the house and damaging three houses and a kindergarten near it. At 8am, medical sources announced the death of a woman, 22-year-old Amal al-Madhoun, who was injured on 9 January 2009 by IOF snipers.
At approximately 12:05pm Monday, Israeli aircraft raided a vegetable stand owned by Yasser Shbair in Sheikh Zayid town, injuring him critically. Later, the corpse of Khalid al-Abid, 21, was found in the al-Salatin neighborhood in western Beit Lahia.
2. Gaza City District:
At approximately 12:30am Sunday 11 January 2009, about 20 Israel tanks and armored vehicles invaded the southern suburbs of Gaza City. The force, covered by helicopter gunships and aircraft, reached the southern Gaza City neighborhood of Tel al-Hawa. Tanks and aircrafts opened heavy fire at the area.
At approximately 2am, an artillery shell hit the house of Talat Hamudeh in Tel al-Hawa neighborhood, killing his two children and injuring him and his wife. The children were identified as:
- Faris Talat Hamudeh, one year; and
- Muhammad Talat Hamudeh, two years.
Three hours after its invasion, the force evacuated, leaving 13 casualties. It should be noted that the IOF had thrown leaflets on this neighborhood ordering its residents to evacuate their homes. Most of them left to UN shelters or relatives’ homes. Some stayed.
At 1:40am Sunday, Israeli aircraft raided the house of Ahmad al-Jabari, who is a leader in Hamas. The four-story house, which is located in the eastern Gaza City neighborhood of al-Shejaiya, was completely destroyed. Many homes around it were damaged.
At approximately 2am also Sunday, Israeli aircraft raided a mobile phone and stock exchange shop near the Pediatrics and Optics Hospitals in Nasser neighborhood in Gaza City. The shop was destroyed and the two hospitals and many houses in the area were damaged, especially in the neighboring al-Dana apartment Block.
At approximately 5:15am Sunday, Israeli aircrafts raided a four-story house owned by Mohammed Awadallah, 76, in the Nasser neighborhood in Gaza City. The house was completely destroyed.
At approximately 7pm Sunday, Israeli aircrafts raided the house of Fatah Palestinian Legislative Council member, Mohammed Dahlan in the Rimal neighborhood in Gaza, destroying it completely. At the same time, IOF troops fired artillery towards the house of Ahmad Mushtaha, 55, in al-Shejaiya neighborhood in the east of Gaza City, killing him and his 24-year-old son, Wajeeh. As neighbors arrived at the house to help the victims, an IOF drone fired a missile at the house, killing two: Muhammad al-Jundi, 20, and his brother Monthir.
At approximately 11pm Sunday, IOF fired an artillery shell at the house Hisham al-Katati in the al-Zeitoun neighborhood in Gaza City, killing his wife, 42-year-old Dalal al-Katati.
At approximately 2am Monday, 12 January 2009, Israeli aircraft fired a missile at two men, Muhammad Nassar, 22, and Ayman Shaldan, 35, in the east of the al-Shejaiya neighborhood east of Gaza City. They were both killed. As Jaber Hussein Habib, 52, and Mohammed Jamal Yasan, 17, tried to help them; a second missile targeted them and killed them.
3. Central Gaza District:
At approximately 12pm, on 10 January 2009, an IOF aircraft fired a missile at al-Sika Street in eastern al-Bureij refugee camp in the central Gaza district, killing 26-year-old Mohammed Hasan Harb.
At approximately 12:55pm on the same day, IOF fired artillery shells at al-Safaa Mosque, which is located in Block One in al-Bureij refugee camp. One of the shells landed directly on the mosque, destroying it partially. Another shell hit an adjacent house owned by 28-year-old Mousa al-Askari, destroying it partially and injuring Mousa’s wife and his two sons, who were identified as:
- Six-year-old Ayman al-Askari;
- Seven-year-old Mosab.
The latter was reported to have sustained critical injuries.
At approximately 1:30pm, the IOF fired artillery shells, which was followed by aerial raid on the apartment of 39-year-old Ramzi Hasan Suliman Abu al-Deeb in al-Nouri Tower in al-Nuseirat refugee camp of the central Gaza district. The attack caused damage to the apartment, and injured 12-year-old Mojahed Ali al-Burs, and his 17-year-old brother, who later died of his wounds.
At approximately 7:45pm on the same day, IOF aircraft raided an agricultural field west of al-Nuseirat camp. The attack injured a 88-year-old woman, Fatma Muhammad Ahmed Tbeil, with shrapnel while she was in her house. Fatma later died of her wounds.
At approximately 11:30pm, on the same day, IOF aircraft raided the two-story house of 55-year-old Abdul-Rahim Shaker in al-Nuseirat camp. The house, which was inhabited by five persons, was totally destroyed as well as three nearby houses.
At approximately 12:05am, on 11 January 2009, IOF aircraft hit the two-story house of Farhoud Younis Abu Khabeeza in al-Nuseirat camp. The house was inhabited by five families, a total of 25 persons. The attack destroyed the house totally and caused damage to five neighboring houses.
At approximately 12:20am that same day, IOF aircraft bombarded the two-story house of 49-year-old Muhammad Hasan Shahin, which was inhabited by nine persons. Shahin’s house and another nearby house were destroyed as a result.
4. Khan Younis District:
At approximately 10pm, on 10 January 2009, the IOF launched tens of artillery and aerial attacks at areas along the borderline, east of Khzaa village, east of Khan Younis city. Shells hit many houses in the village. According to eyewitnesses, some of these shells released white smoke causing residents to suffer from suffocation, spasm and syncope. Tens of houses also were burnt.
At approximately 10:30pm on the same day, the IOF shelled with artillery a house owned by the Qdeih family, also in Khzaa village, killing 35-year-old Hanan Fathi Qdeih and injuring all of her kids and other family members.
At approximately 10:30pm on the same day, IOF aircraft raided the house of Ibrahim Baraka in Bani Suhaila town, east to Khan Younis. The house was damaged as a result.
Earlier, at approximately 8am that same day, IOF aircraft shelled a group of people who were close to the area of the IOF’s incursion into Khzaa village, killing 22-year-old Nour Mohammed Ameish. Other people, including a woman, were killed in another attack in the village.
At approximately 10:30am that same day, IOF aircraft fired a missile at a group of people close to al-Awda school, which is located on the main street connecting Abasan town and Khzaa village east to Khan Younis. The shelling killed 19-year-old Khaled Abu Ryiala, and injured another person.
5. Rafah District:
At approximately 2:38pm on Sunday 11 January 2009, Israeli aircrafts raided the al-Falah Charity’s building in the al-Shabora refugee camp in Rafah. No casualties or injuries were reported.
Earlier, at 1:55pm also Sunday, Israeli aircraft fired a missile at a civilian car on the Awni Dheer Street in Rafah, injuring four people; including a doctor, and destroying the car.
Between 3:10pm and 7:10pm on Sunday, Israeli aircrafts launched a series of air raids at the borderline between Rafah and Egypt. Later, at 2am Monday, they launched another series of air raids. In all, they fired 42 heavy missiles, according to Al Mezan’s field worker in Rafah.
At approximately 4:15am on Sunday, Israeli aircraft fired a missile at a motorcycle, killing Mohammed Al-Shair, 23, and critically injuring Mahmoud Abu Luli, 24.
These attacks have continued in the midst of a severe humanitarian crisis in Gaza, with approximately 200,000 people having already left their homes. Most of the population does not have access to water. Moreover, the health sector is still suffering from an enormous load of injured and killed people under severe shortages in medical supplies and personnel, and restrictions on the movement of ambulances and medical consignments.
Al Mezan Center asserts that countless acts by the IOF represent scandalous war crimes, the worst of which being the indiscriminate attacks on houses full of inhabitants, killing ambulance teams while attempting to reach them and leaving them to bleed or starve to death only meters from IOF troops. Additionally, IOF’s restriction of the passage of foodstuffs and targeting of electric lines has caused civilians to live in dire conditions.
Al Mezan Center therefore renews its strong condemnation of the IOF’s aggression on the Gaza Strip, and its flagrant disregard of the applicable rules of international law. This behavior has so far cost the lives of hundreds of civilians and the suffering of hundreds of thousands.
Al Mezan also renews its deploring of the failure of the international community to prevent such violations of international law. While civilians have been murdered, the UN Security Council took a very long time debating disputed political affairs, while it should have acted to prevent the killing of children and innocent civilians, and to ensure the provision of humanitarian aid in accordance with international law.
Hence, Al Mezan Center calls upon the UN Secretary-General, as a matter of utmost urgency, to focus on the protection of civilians who are the main victims of the violation of international law by Israel. Political debates can wait, however, civilian life cannot be compensated. The United Nations is called on to ensure the compliance with international law and the protection of civilians, including its own staff. Every hour of aggression on Gaza in the way we have witnessed during the past 16 days means the loss of more civilian life, destruction of property and extending the suffering of hundreds of thousands of people who should be protected, not neglected.
Al Mezan Center also calls on the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Times of War, of 1949, to live up to their legal and moral responsibilities upholding their own obligations under Common Article 1, by respecting, and ensuring respect of, the Convection.
The Center, while commending the worldwide action against these violations, calls on civil societies around the world to exert more pressure on their governments so that they act in conformity with the relevant human rights and humanitarian obligations as prescribed in relevant international law.
This press release has been edited.
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