Eighty-nine children and 30 women amongst Gaza’s confirmed dead

The funeral procession for Muhammad Ibrahim Abu Shaar, a civilian who was killed in an Israeli airstrike al-Shabora refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, 5 January 2008. (Hatem Omar/MaanImages)

2:30pm Gaza Time (=2hrs GMT)

On the 10th day of its aggression on the Gaza Strip, the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) has seriously escalated its military operations, targeting mostly civilian targets, particularly homes. Air strikes and artillery shells hit tens of homes. IOF also targeted medical facilities and ambulances. A Civil Defense team was hit as it tried to fight a fire following the bombardment of a clinic.

IOF’s ground invasion into the Gaza Strip has expanded as troops and tanks landed from the sea south to Gaza City. Seventy-seven people have been killed in IOF’s attacks between 1pm yesterday and 2:30pm today. This includes 21 children and nine women. In addition, a medical rescue crew were killed during the same time period. Dozens have also been injured, most of whom were civilians. Targeting protected objects and persons represent flagrant disregard to the rules of international law relevant to armed conflict; particularly as Israeli military and government spokespersons continue to assert that IOF targets fighter and military infrastructure.

Israeli aircrafts fired 15 missiles around the Omar Ibn al-Khattab School in Beit Lahia, not far from the Israeli ground troops. No reports have been yet received as to the presence of casualties.

At approximately 5:50pm yesterday, Sunday 4 January 2009, Israeli aircrafts fired missiles at the Mosab Ibn Omair Mosque in Beit Lahia, north of the Gaza Strip, killing three men. They were identified as:

  • 19-year-old Mohammed Khader Hamouda;
  • 28-year-old Ala Zaqout;
  • 30-year-old Mohammed Hassan Baba.

Four other people were critically injured in this attack.

At approximately 7:20pm also Sunday, an IOF drone fired a missile at the house of the al-Shrafi family in the middle of Jabaliya refugee camp, killing the house’s owner, 47-year-old Samir al-Shrafi. The house sustained severe damage and a fire started in it.

At approximately 8pm, IOF shelled with heavy machine guns the al-Nada and al-Awda Towers, north of the Gaza Strip, killing 17-year-old Iyad Nabil Saleh inside his home. Several other inhabitants were also injured; however, Al Mezan has not been able to retrieve verified information. Residents of these two neighborhoods have had to vacate their homes and seek refuge with relatives in Jabaliya camp, or in an UNRWA [United Nations agency for Palestine refugees] school nearby.

Five minutes later, the IOF fired artillery shells at the house of Zyad al-Kafarneh, east of the north-Gaza town of Beit Hanoun. Four children and their father were injured as they were inside their house.

IOF armored vehicles advanced into the Customs Junction in Beit Hanoun and opened intensive fire in the nearby neighborhoods at 6am Monday, 5 January 2009. Tens of households were forced to evacuate their homes and take refuge in schools which UNRWA has opened to shelter them.

At 8am also today, the IOF opened artillery fire at the neighborhood of Tal al-Zatar, north of Jabaliya. Shells hit homes and caused severe damage to the houses of Mousa Abu Jasser, Ashraf Salha, Abdul-Rauf al-Mabhoh, Zaki al-Kahlout, Ahmed Awad, Nasser Shamyieh and Issam Filfil.

At 8:45am, an IOF artillery shell fell close to a mourning tent south of Beit Hanoun, killing three people. They were identified as:

  • 10-year-old Arafat Mohammed Abdul-Dayim;
  • 25-year-old Mohammed Jamal Abdul-Dayim; and
  • 30-year-old Nail Yousef Abdul-Dayim.

Ten other civilians were also injured in this attack, three of whom critically.

At approximately 11:30am, IOF fired 10 artillery shells that fell onto Blocks Four and Five in the Jabaliya refugee camp. No injuries were reported. IOF also fired artillery shells at the al-Atatra neighborhood, southeastern Beit Lahia. One hundred civilians escaped the area and remained in a nearby street. Following contacts between Al Mezan Center’s field worker and UNRWA, they were absorbed in an UNRWA refuge in the Jabaliya Sports Club. Last night, a family residing near the American School in Beit Lahia was evacuated after its 30 members ran out of food and water. They were absorbed in an UNRWA shelter in north Gaza. They reported that five corpses were close to their house in the area.

At 10pm Sunday, medical sources announced the death of 18-year-old Mohammed Akram Abu Harbid, who was injured in an IOF air raid earlier in Beit Hanoun.
At approximately 11:30pm Sunday, Israeli aircrafts raided the house of Zyad al-Nimir in al-Zeitoun neighborhood in the east of Gaza City, killing four of its residents and of a related family who were visiting them. Two of the victims were children. The victims were identified as:

  • 8-year-old Ayah Zyad al-Nimir;
  • 18-year-old Akram Zyad al-Nimir;
  • 12-year-old Asmaa Afana;
  • 25-year-old Ayman Afana.

At approximately 11:45pm, also Sunday, IOF fired an artillery shell onto the house al-Abed al-Habbash, which is located in the al-Tuffah neighborhood northeast of Gaza City, killing two children:

  • 13-year-old Israa Nasser al-Habbash; and
  • 10-year-old Shaza al-Abed al-Habbash.

In yet another attack on an ambulance crew, an Israeli aircraft fired a guided missile at an ambulance in the al-Zeitoun neighborhood, east of Gaza City. The three crewmen were killed as a result. The attack which occurred at approximately 4pm Sunday 4 January 2009. They were identified as:

  • 25-year-old Anas Fadel Naeem;
  • 25-year-old Rafat Abdul-Al;
  • 24-year-old Yasser Kamal Said.

The rescue men were on their way to collect injured people in the area after they had received a phone call reporting injuries from an IOF attack.

At approximately 5:30am on the same day, Israeli aircrafts raided the house of Fuad al-Helo, 50, in the same neighborhood of al-Zeitoun, killing the man and a child from his family. The child was identified as two-year-old Farah Emad al-Helo.

At 12:40am today, Monday 5 January 2009, Israeli aircrafts bombarded with three heavy missiles a clinic run by the Union of Healthcare Committees. The clinic, which is located east to the Shifa Tower in the west of Gaza City, was destroyed.

Later, at 1:30am, Israeli aircrafts bombarded the house of Ameer Abu Aisheh, 40, in the Beach refugee camp, west of Gaza City. The man and his wife, 39-year-old Sabah, and their son, five-year-old Ahmed, were killed immediately. Al Mezan also received reports that five of the same family members have been under the rubble of the three-story house. Those were identified as:

  • 30-year-old Naheel Abu Aisheh;
  • Five-year-old Ahmed Ameer Abu Aisheh;
  • 12-year-old Hussein Ameer Abu Aisheh;
  • Eight-year-old Mohammed Ameer Abu Aisheh;
  • Six-year-old Ghaydaa Ameer Abu Aisheh.

At 7am, also today, Israeli aircraft raided the house of Talal al-Sammouni, which is located in the al-Zeitoun neighborhood in the east of Gaza City. Three children were killed in the attack. They were identified as:

  • Four-year-old Ahmed Atyieh al-Sammouni;
  • Eight-month-old Mohammed Hilmi al-Sammouni; and
  • Five-year-old Ameer Atyieh al-Sammouni.

Al Mezan reported that at least seven civilians; including five women, are still been under the rubble of building. They were identified as:

  • 48-year-old Atyieh Hilmi al-Sammouni;
  • 55-year-old Talal Hilmi al-Sammouni;
  • 18-year-old Rahma Mohammed al-Sammouni;
  • 60-year-old Latifa Abdul-Rahman al-Sammouni;
  • 20-year-old Maha al-Sammouni;
  • 30-year-old Hanan al-Sammouni;
  • 23-year-old Safaa al-Sammouni.

They could not be rescued owing to the IOF’s attacks on the locations where they are and to the lack of equipment necessary for taking out the rubble. Moreover, the continued targeting by IOF of ambulance teams has threatened the rescue efforts.

In the central Gaza district, Israeli aircrafts launched several attacks that targeted houses. At approximately 2:10am, on Monday 5 January 2009, IOF aircrafts raided the two-story house of Farid Mohammed al-Hindy, which is located in Block D in the al-Bureij refugee camp, destroying it completely and causing severe damage to 10 neighboring houses.

At approximately 5:30am the same day IOF aircraft bombarded the two-story house of Jamil Saleh Abdullah Mezher, which is inhabited by 30 individuals. As a result, the house was completely destroyed, and 10 nearby houses and al-Karmel Cultural Association were severely damaged.

In yet another attack on the same day, at approximately 10am, IOF aircrafts hit the two-story house of Soad Othman, which is home to four families with a total of 20 persons. The house is located in southern al-Nuseirat refugee camp. The attack destroyed the house completely and damaged seven adjacent houses.

At approximately 10:30 that same day, IOF aircrafts attacked the house of Fayiz Mohammed Baroud, in al-Nuseirat camp. The house was totally destroyed, and six nearby houses were damaged as a result.

Al Mezan’s field worker in the central Gaza district reported that the corpse of a man and eight injured people were admitted at the Shuhada al-Aqsa Hospital in Deir al-Balah. The man was identified as 22-year-old Mohammed Abu Kmeel. He was killed in a missile attack in his village, al-Mughraqa, south of Gaza City.

The IOF, which stationed themselves in the northern area of al-Zahra town south of Gaza City, has continued to open fire at residential blocks in the town and the nearby villages of al-Mughraqa and Wadi Gaza. The shooting resulted in several causalities and injuries. At approximately 3:20pm on 4 January 2009, the body of 40-year-old Eid Abdul-Hadi Abu Nada was admitted to the Shuhada al-Aqsa hospital. He died from a live bullet that hit him as he was riding his bike along the beach road, north to al-Zahraa town. At approximately 8pm on the same day, the body of Ahmed Salem Abu Meddin, 54, was also admitted to the hospital after he was injured from a live bullet to his head while he drove on the beach, in west al-Zahra town.

In addition, at approximately 12:40pm, the body of an eight-year-old girl, Nour Wail Thabit, was admitted to the hospital. She was killed by a live bullet to her head while she was in her house in al-Zahra town.

The IOF has also escalated its attacks on the southern Gaza Strip area of Khan Younis. At approximately 3am, on 5 January 2008, IOF aircrafts bombarded the two-story house of Yasser Nazmi Hamdan. The house was inhabited by 12 families, a total of 78 persons, and is located in al-Amal neighborhood, southwest of Khan Younis city. The attack caused the total destruction of Hamdan’s house and an adjacent house.

At approximately 3:30am that same day, IOF aircrafts shelled the house of Khalil Moussa, which is located in a densely populated area in the middle of the refugee camp of Khan Younis. The shelling caused total destruction to the house and severe damage to a high number of nearby houses.

At approximately 4am on the same day, IOF aircrafts bombarded the house of Amir Kollab in al-Amal neighborhood, causing severe damage to the house. Later, at approximately 10:10am, aircrafts targeted the offices of al-Nour Islamic Charity, which hosts a clinic. The building, located in Bani Suhaila town, was completely destroyed.

Earlier, at approximately 4:40pm, on 4 January 2009, IOF aircrafts bombarded the house of Ismail Jarghoun, which is located in the vicinity of Sufa crossing, southeast of Khan Younis, and the house of Marzouq Abu Jami, which is located in al-Zana area in Bani Suhaila village, in eastern Khan Younis. The two houses were completely destroyed. At approximately, 5:10pm, on the same day, the IOF shelled the courtyard of UNRWA’s Mustafa Hafez School in Khan Younis.

In the southern district of Rafah, the IOF launched a series of air raids yesterday evening and today. At 5:05pm on Sunday 4 January 2009, Israeli aircraft raided the house of Mohammed Fahajan in the al-Jnena neighborhood in Rafah town. At 11:40am, Monday 5 January 2009, aircrafts raided the houses of Mohammed Abu Shamaleh and Raed al-Attar. An hour later, aircrafts raided the house of Ibrahim Abu al-Najja in the al-Shabora refugee camp of Rafah. All of these houses were completely destroyed. Dozens of houses neighboring them were also destroyed and damaged.

IOF also fired artillery shells at the village of al-Shoka, east of Rafah district, killing a child. He was identified as 12-year-old Ismail Abdullah Abu Snaymeh. Five other people were injured in the village.

At approximately 3:50pm on Sunday 4 January 2009, an Israeli aircraft fired a missile at a motorcycle in the village of Kherbet al-Adas in Rafah, killing 25-year-old Muhammad Ibrahim Abu Shaar.

Today, at approximately 1:20pm, IOF fired several missiles on the Omar Ibn al-Khattab Street in Rafah. The bombardment, which lasted for an hour, killed a child, 12-year-old Mohammed Silmi Abu Snaymeh, and a man, 40-year-old Sulaiman Abu Khamash.

As the Israeli aggression continues, the humanitarian conditions in the Gaza Strip have deteriorated to an unprecedented level. This is the third day that the entirety of Gaza City is without electricity, and the seventh with two-thirds of it without electricity, which has been cut off after IOF’s bombardment of all of the electric transformers around it. IOF also bombarded electricity lines in Rafah and other districts, including the line that supplies Rafah with electricity from Egypt. In Gaza City, long queues of civilians have been seen waiting to get some bread. Citizens reported that they wait for five to seven hours to get bread that suffices for one day. Owing to power cuts, most of Gaza City’s homes do not receive water in their tabs. Civilians are also facing difficulty in cooking and heating after the cooking gas depleted.

The under-developed health system has also been burdened with loads of casualties and injuries, as it lacks supplies and personnel. Patients are being sent home as soon as possible to make room for newcomers.

Meanwhile, Al Mezan Center has received reports, and its staff members have witnessed, that the IOF has used a new kind of ammunition not seen before in the Gaza Strip. Shells fire and explode in the air some 30 meters before they reach the ground, spreading numerous smaller bombs. This ammunition has been reportedly used in the southeast of Gaza City, a largely agricultural area, and in Jabaliya camp, which is a densely-populated area. Al Mezan calls for investigation into the likelihood of using cluster bombs by the IOF in these two areas. If it proves correct, civilians need help to clear unexploded bombs from their neighborhoods.

Al Mezan Center for Human Rights renews its strongest condemnation of the Israeli military operations in the Gaza Strip, which have continued to cause unprecedented losses in civilian life and property. Al Mezan remains alarmed by the international community’s failure to address the grave situation in Gaza, by bringing the Israeli military actions to an end and aiding civilians. Therefore, Al Mezan Center reiterates its calls upon the international community to take effective action to bring to an end these operations without delay. Al Mezan calls upon:

  • The United Nations Secretary General to condemn the Israeli disproportionate use of force and the targeting of civilians and civilian objects in defiance of peremptory rules of international law, and to ensure that the UN Security Council and General Assembly take appropriate steps to address the situation in the Gaza Strip;
  • The United Nations agencies to provide urgent humanitarian aid and safe shelters for Gazans who have been displaced and those living in threatened areas;
  • The International Committee of the Red Cross to double its efforts to ensure humanitarian access for civilians and ensure tending to the urgent needs for medicines and water, and to investigate the likelihood of the use of cluster bombs in north Gaza;
  • The Human Rights Council to request the UN general Assembly to request the convening in Switzerland of a conference of the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilians in Times of War, of 1949, to consider the breaches by Israel of its nonderogable obligations under the Convention in the course of its ongoing military actions in Gaza, and to consider the necessary measures to ensure respect of the rules set out in the Convention and its relevant protocols.
  • Civil societies around the world to exert pressure on their governments so that they act in conformity with the relevant human rights and humanitarian obligations as prescribed in relevant international law.

Failure to take effective action to halt the continuous Israeli violations has only allowed for a grave situation to grow worse. Action must be taken immediately to ensure the protection of the civilian population in the occupied Gaza Strip.

This press release has been edited for clarity.

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