Eighty-six percent of those killed in Gaza were civilians

Palestinians mourn for three children of the Abd al-Nabi family who were killed in an Israeli missile strike outside their home in Jabaliya, 14 January 2009. (Wissam Nassar/MaanImages)

1pm Gaza Time (2hrs GMT)

The Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) has continued its aggression against the Gaza Strip for the 19th day. Al Mezan Center’s monitoring revealed that the IOF has escalated its attacks on civilian targets. Until today, the vast majority of the casualties are non-combatants. Only 13.9 percent of the total casualties were fighters (137 men). According to Al Mezan Center’s monitoring, as of 1pm today, the number of Palestinians killed by the IOF during Operation Cast Lead has risen to 979. Of those, 206 were children and 70 were women. Seven of the medical teams members and three journalists were also killed. Moreover, at least 3,527 have been injured, including 760 children and 448 women.

Between 1pm yesterday and 1pm today, the IOF killed 47 Palestinians around the Gaza Strip. Fifteen of those were children and four were women. One hundred and forty-five people were admitted at hospital from injuries, including 32 children and 18 women.

It should be noted that the number of casualties is expected to increase as the IOF continues its attacks. There are also many people who have not yet been identified or found, although survivors’ testimonies indicate that dozens are still under the rubble of their destroyed houses in areas under IOF control.
Al Mezan’s investigations also indicated that 66 schools have been destroyed or damaged throughout the Gaza Strip, as a result of IOF’s attacks. Of those, seven schools were directly targeted. Thirty-three of these schools are UNRWA schools.

The following sections provide a detailed account of the impacts of the IOF’s attacks on the Gaza Strip during the past two days.

1. North Gaza District:

At approximately 3:05pm, on 12 January 2009, an Israeli aircraft fired a missile at a civilian car, killing its 44-year-old driver, Adnan Nimer Afana, and two children who were passing by the area. The two children were identified as:

  • Raed al-Gheeri, 11; and
  • Fadel Emad al-Najjar, two.

Three other bystanders were also injured in the attack.

At approximately 3:28pm the same day, IOF aircraft shelled agricultural area, north of al-Shaima School in Beit Lahia, causing damages to the school and some nearby houses.

At approximately 15:35pm, on the same day, an IOF aircraft fired a missile into a group of people who were near Ibrahim al-Khalil Mosque, which is located in at-Twam area west of Jabaliya; one of the injured was reported to have sustained critical injuries.

At approximately 3:40pm, on the same day, IOF aircraft shelled an agricultural area in Ibad al-Raman neighborhood south of Jabaliya, injuring three children who were crossing the street.

Two minutes later, IOF aircraft shelled al-Zaanin farm in Beit Hanoun town, causing damage to the field and some nearby houses. At approximately 4:05pm the same day, the IOF shelled with artillery the western areas of Beit Lahia, sitting some houses on fire.

At approximately 4:17pm, on Monday, 12 January 2009, an IOF aircraft fired a missile at Hammouda-and-Banna apartment complex, which is located in al-Zarqaa area in Jabaliya town. While the residents of the complex were trying to evacuate their apartments following the first attack, the IOF fired several artillery shells at the tower, killing 18-year-old Ayat Kamal al-Banna, and injured four others, including two children. Once ambulances arrived at the scene of the attack to pick up the victims, at approximately 4:22pm, the IOF fired several missiles at them, hitting an ambulance. As a result, a 28-year-old doctor, Issa Abdul-Rahim Saleh, was killed and 25-year-old Ahmed Abdul-Bari, the ambulance driver, was injured. The shelling of the same apartment compound continued, killing a 23-year-old woman, Ferial Kamal al-Banna, and a 20-year-old man, Mustafa al-Basha. Another five people were also injured.

At approximately 7:20pm the same day IOF fired artillery shells, which are believed to be phosphorous bombs, on al-Salatin area in western Beit Lahia. The shelling caused blaze to several houses.

At approximately 8:37pm, also Monday, IOF aircraft bombarded al-Barawii gas station, close to the Habboub junction, in Beit Lahia. Te attack injured three bystanders, and damaged some neighboring houses.

At approximately 9:30pm on Monday, IOF shelled with artillery the northern and western areas of Beit Lahia town, causing blazes in numerous houses. The shells were believed to be phosphorous bombs according to reports Al Mezan received.
At approximately 10:05pm on the same day, Israeli aircrafts raided the 12-story al-Andalos Tower, which is located at the entrance of al-Karama Tower complex, northwest of Gaza City. This attack was followed by another attack by IOF naval vessels, and destroyed the tower and caused fire to some adjacent houses.

At approximately 22:15pm, that same day, the IOF fired artillery shells, which are believed to be phosphorous bombs, towards the areas of at-Twam, Anan, Amer Project, and al-Karama west of Jabaliya town. The shelling lasted for an hour and a half, during which time IOF aircrafts fired two missiles that caused blaze to several houses. Fortunately, the resident of the area found an underground shelter to hide and escape the serious impacts of these attacks.

At approximately 11:30pm, IOF troops fired artillery shells at the area of Beer al-Naja, in western Jabaliya. One of these shells landed inside Shadia Abu Ghazala School, which has been used as shelter by UNRWA [the United Nations agency for Palestine refugees] for displaced people; however, no injuries or casualties were reported.

At approximately 12:05am on Tuesday, 13 January 2009, IOF tanks advanced into Anan, Amer Project, and al-Karama areas amid intensive artillery shelling and a cover of helicopter gunships. The incursion continued until 4am of the same day. The shelling killed nine people who were identified as:

  • Ibrahim Ismail Dababish, 22;
  • Osama Ahmed al-Absi, 24
  • Mohammed Hasan al-Barawi, 23;
  • Kamel Jamil al-Serhi, 22
  • Younis Mohammed al-Sharbasi, 24;
  • Nail Ali, 24;
  • Yousif Omar Mohammed Lubbad, 23;
  • Mohammed Khalil Ibrahim Abu Laila, 23; and
  • Hasan Mohammed Mohammed al-Zomor, 20.

The bodies of those killed were found by medical personnel in different locations in al-Karama, al-Sudanyia, and al-Twam areas, when they headed to these areas at approximately 9am.

At approximately 8:40am, also Tuesday, the IOF shelled with artillery the areas of Bir al-Naja and Aslan, west of Jabaliya refugee camp. The shells were reported to be phosphorous bombs. At 9:45am, IOF gunships opened intensive fire at the eastern area of Jabaliya town. Tanks also opened fire, from the top of al-Kashef Hill, east of Jabaliya. The IOF tanks advanced into these areas till they reached Shashaa area in the north.

At approximately 10am that same day, the IOF fired artillery shells at houses in al-Manshyia area in Beit Lahia. One shell landed on the house of Omar Ali al-Tanani, killing him in the spot. The shells were reported to be phosphorus bombs.

In the evening hours on Tuesday, medical teams found four bodies, of whom was 91-year-old Mekbil Eid al-Jarabee, whose body had started to decompose. The man had been killed since the start of the Israeli operation in Izbet Abed-Rabbu area, according to medical reports. That same day, medical sources announced the death of 17-year-old Mustafa Tawfiq al-Ashi, who was injured in IOF shelling, while he was in his house, near al-Hartani School.

At approximately 1:45pm, also Tuesday, Israeli aircraft bombarded the three-story house of Ayman Mohammed Zweidy, which is located on al-Quds Street in Beit Hanoun. The attack destroyed the house completely and caused damages to five neighboring houses.

Five minutes later, an IOF aircraft hit Omar Ibn al-Khattab Mosque in Tel al-Zaatar neighborhood in Jabaliya, causing severe damage to it and to six neighboring houses. Eleven people, including seven children and four women, were injured.

At approximately 3:5pm on Tuesday, IOF aircraft fired a missile at the end of al-Trans Street in Jabaliya refugee camp. The attack killed 12-year-old Abdul-Rahman Tawfiq Jaballah and 13-year-old Mohammed Jaballah, and injured another who was reported seriously injured.

Ten minutes later, IOF aircraft raided an open area, in al-Falouja area in Jabaliya refugee camp. The raid killed 30-year-old Mohammed Adel Matar al-Ashqar, and 25-year-old Ezadinn Ali Matar al-Ashqar while they were riding a horse cart. The horse was also killed and four bystanders were injured.

At approximately 5:25 on Tuesday, an IOF aircraft fired two rockets at a group of people who were in the western road of Beit Lahia town, close to Tel al-Zaatar School. The shelling killed five persons who were identified as:

  • Rami Mahmoud Rajab al-Foura, 30;
  • Ahmed Mohammed Ayyoub Khella, 21;
  • Ahmed Fadel Abdullah Abu Rayyan, 27;
  • Hani Mohammed Abdullah Abu Rayyan, 21; and
  • Jamil al-Banna, 27.

Five other people were also injured in the attack.

At the same time, IOF aircraft fired a missile at a group of people who were close to a former base of the Presidential Guard in al-Twam area, injuring two of them who were reported to have sustained critical injuries.

At approximately 3:35pm also Tuesday, an IOF aircraft raided a three-story house owned by Zwidi Mohammed Zweidy, destroying it completely and causing damages to some nearby houses. An adjacent house was also attacked only two hours before the shelling of this house.

At approximately 5:40pm, on the same day, IOF aircrafts shelled an open area in al-Falouja in Jabaliya refugee camp, causing damages to nearby houses.

Earlier at approximately 5pm that same day, an IOF aircraft fired a missile at three children while they were playing on the rubble of the Saleh family house, which had been raided a few days ago. The house is located west of al-Falouja cemetery in Jabaliya refugee camp. The three were killed and were identified as:

  • Saddam Jamil Salim Abd al-Nabi, 17;
  • Basem Talat Abd al-Nabi, 11; and
  • Qasem Talat Abd al-Nabi, four.

At approximately 1am on Wednesday, 14 January 2009, IOF troops stationed on al-Kashef Hill, intensively fired machine guns and artillery shells towards the civil administration area, and Block Four and Five of Jabaliya refugee camp. The firing, which lasted for one hour according to Al Mezan’s field worker, caused damages to tens of houses in the areas.

At approximately 10:35am, also Wednesday, an IOF aircraft bombarded the two-story house of Fayiz al-Masri, which is located west of Beit Lahia cemetery, destroying it completely and causing damages to three adjacent houses.

At approximately 11:10am, on the same day, the IOF fired artillery shells at civilian houses in al-Nozer area, in eastern Jabaliya town. One of these shells landed on Yafa Street, injuring 14-year-old Ahmed Samir Khader, who was reported to have sustained seriously injured. Another missile hit the house of Ammar Ahmed Khader, but no injuries were reported.

At approximately 11:25am, on the same day, the IOF fired artillery shells towards civilian houses in al-Nozer area, killing two women, 35-year-old Kafa Mohammed al-Motawak, and 40-year-old Hanan Shaban al-Najjar (Ijneed), and her 1.5-year-old child, Ayisha Ibrahim al-Najjar. The shelling also injured four others, including a child.

At approximately 12:20pm, also on Wednesday, an IOF aircraft fired a missile at the former base of the Presidential Guard, injuring one seriously.

2. Gaza City District:

At approximately 2pm on Monday, 12 January 2009, Israeli helicopter gunship shelled with machine guns the al-Zafir Tower Five, which is located in the Tel al-Hawa neighborhood south of Gaza City. Fired started in four apartments in the tower.

At approximately 3:50pm on Monday Israeli aircraft fired a missile into a crowd in the Palestine Square, Gaza City’s market center, killing three men:

  • Khalil Ahmad Abu al-Khair, 22;
  • Tariq Fadel Jafar, 24; and
  • Harif Sami Abu al-Khair, 23.

At approximately 1am on Tuesday, 13 January 2009, Israeli aircraft raided the house of Hani Abu Jayyab, which is located in the Sheikh Radwan neighborhood north of Gaza City. The four-story house, which was inhabited by 50 people, was completely destroyed.

At approximately 4am on Tuesday Israeli aircraft raided the al-Jazeera Hotel on Gaza City’s beach, destroying it completely.

At approximately 1:30am also Tuesday, Israeli tanks and armored vehicles invaded the southern suburbs of Gaza City under the cover of helicopters. Troops reached the neighborhoods of Tel al-Hawa and al-Zeitoun and clashed with resistance members. Eight resistance members were killed in this invasion, which lasted until 6am when the forces withdrew from the area.

At approximately 8pm on Tuesday, Israeli aircraft raided the house Saeed Arouk in the Shiekh Radwan neighborhood in Gaza City. The missile penetrated the three concrete roofs of the house but did not explode. Later, at approximately 8:30pm Tuesday, Israeli aircraft raided the house of Khader Abu al-Qari in the same neighborhood and destroyed it. The three-story house was inhabited by 30 people. At 11:30pm, aircrafts raided a third house in this neighborhood. The four-story house, owned by Ahmad al-Saati, was completely destroyed.

At 11pm on the same day, Israeli aircraft raided the Wadi al-Arayis in al-Shejaiya neighborhood, east of Gaza City, killing four people including three children. The victims were identified as:

  • Emad Fadel Saad, 25;
  • Ahmad Mohammed Farahat, 15;
  • Majdi Nahidh Isleem, 14; and
  • Yousef Mohammed Farahat, 14.

On Wednesday, 14 January 2009, Israeli aircrafts raided a four-story house owned by Abdullah al-Nashar in Nasser neighborhood. The house was completely destroyed. An hour later, aircrafts raided the three-story house of Afeef Ilyian, which is located in the same neighborhood, and destroyed it. Later, at 3:30am, aircrafts raided the house of Abdul-Rahman al-Kurdi in the Shiekh Radwan neighborhood in Gaza City. The four-story house was destroyed and two people were killed. They were identified as:

  • Ahmad Mustafa Mikdad, 80; and
  • Usama Kayid Abu Jayyab, 45.

At 7am Wednesday, Israeli aircraft raided the Shiekh Radwan cemetery in Gaza City, destroying several tombstones and causing damage to the graveyard. At the same time, IOF troops fired artillery shells at the houses of Hammam Subhi al-Sheikh and Abdul-Rahman Bulbul, which are located in the middle of Gaza City close to the Municipality Park. The two houses caught fire as a result.

3. Central Gaza District:

At approximately 1:40pm on Monday 12 January 2009, Israeli aircrafts fired a missile at the al-Hikir neighborhood in the south of Deir al-Balah. Ten people were injured, including five children. Five minutes later, Israeli naval vessels opened fire towards al-Sawarha area, southwest of al-Nuseirat refugee camp. Several houses were damaged, however, no casualties were reported.

At 4:30pm on Monday, IOF troops opened artillery fire at the eastern parts of al-Buriej refugee camp. One shell hit the house of Rushdi Wishah and caused severe damage to it. No casualties or injuries were reported. At 5pm, IOF troops, who are stationed in the former settlement of Nitzarim south of Gaza City, shelled the al-Zahra town with artillery and machine guns. The shelling caused severe damage to the houses of the families of Abu Dahrouj, Abu Itiwi and Abu Hjayir, who reside the area. No casualties or injuries were reported.

Medical sources announced the death of two of the wounded people who had been sent to Egypt for hospital care. They were brothers Naji and Ramiz Mayyat. A woman also passed away at a hospital in Egypt. She was identified as 26-year-old Islam Ismail Abdul-Jawad. The three victims had sustained critical wounds on 6 January 2009.

At 11:10am on Monday, IOF troops shelled with artillery the house of Ahmad Hussein al-Shanti, which is located in the east of al-Maghazi refugee camp. The house was destroyed and five neighboring houses damaged.

At 3am on Tuesday 13 January 2009, Israeli aircrafts raided the al-Ahli sports club in the al-Nuseirat refugee camp. The club was completely destroyed and six houses in its vicinity were damaged.

At 2pm Tuesday, IOF fired flachette shells that exploded near al-Dawa Mosque, north of al-Nuseirat refugee camp. Eight people were wounded, including five children, as a result.

At approximately 11am on Wednesday, 14 January 2009, Israeli aircrafts fired a missile at two persons east to al-Dawa Mosque, north of al-Nuseirat refugee camp. The two sustained critical wounds and had their legs amputated.

4. Khan Younis District:

At approximately 5:30pm on Monday 12 January 2009, Israeli aircrafts raided the house of Abdul-Sattar al-Najjar in the southeast of Khan Younis. The house was completely destroyed. Several neighboring houses were also damaged.

At approximately 1am Tuesday, 13 January 2009, IOF invaded the eastern parts of Khuzaa village, east of Khan Younis. IOF fired many white phosphorus shells. Soldiers broke into houses and took positions in them. They ordered tens of families to leave their houses. IOF’s fire in the village killed a 75-year-old man, Khalil Hamdan al-Najjar, and injured 18 others. Eyewitnesses reported to Al Mezan that IOF fired shells that exploded in the air and spread a white substance that released thick white smoke and caused burns and fires. Many people suffered difficulty breathing as they inhaled the smoke, and burns in the eyes. An IOF force forced an ambulance to stop as it was heading to help a woman who was shot by IOF in the head. The ambulance driver told Al Mezan Center that soldiers fired at him as he tried to reach the wounded woman, who laid on the street. He had to leave the ambulance and take cover in a house in the village. Despite the many contacts he made to ensure safe passage, he could not leave the house until the Israeli force evacuated the village at 8am. When he reached the woman, she was dead. She was identified as Rawhiya Ahmad al-Najjar. She was left on the road to bleed to death.

IOF’s attacks on this village, during which planes fired 15 missiles, killed eight people, including a girl child. Thirty other people were injured. Those who were killed were identified as:

  • Nidal Abu Reeheh, 18;
  • Ghassan Abu Zir, 25;
  • Ala Abu Reeheh, 22;
  • Mamdouh Msaed Qdeeh, 17;
  • Salman Imeesh, 21;
  • Mahmoud al-Najjar, 25;
  • Ahmad Juma al-Najjar, 25;
  • Ala Khalid al-Najjar, 14.

About 40 houses were destroyed and damaged during this incursion. Many commercial stores were also destroyed. IOF also leveled wide areas of agricultural land during it. According to Al Mezan Center’s sources, IOF arrested eight people from the village.

At approximately 3:30pm also Tuesday, IOF troops fired artillery shells at the town of Abassan, east to Khan Younis. A shell exploded in a house owned by the Kabalan family, killing Ahmad Zaki Abu Teer, 20, and injuring many people. At the same time, IOF fired artillery shells at the town of Bani Suhaila, also east to Khan Younis, killing a woman and her step-brother as they were on a donkey cart. They were identified as Rasha Ahmad Abu Jami, 21, and Mumin al-Smiri. Seven other people were injured in this attack.

At approximately 7:50pm on Tuesday, Israeli aircraft fired a missile at a car in the al-Bayouk neighborhood in the city of Khan Younis. The car was destroyed and a man and his 12-year-old son were killed. They were identified as:

  • Abdul-Rahman Mahmoud al-Shair, 12; and
  • Mahmoud Saeed al-Shair, 46.

At approximately 8pm, Israeli aircrafts fired a missile at a motorcycle, injuring moderately its driver, 50-year-old Mohammed Sharif Abu Dakka.

5. Rafah District:

At approximately 6:54pm on Monday 12 January 2009, Israeli aircrafts fired a missile into a group of young men who were walking on the main street in Rafah, close to the town’s mall. The explosion killed two of them and injured 10 passersby, including two children and three women. Those who were killed in this attack were:

  • Ahmad Ibrahim Abu Jazar, 23; and
  • Mohammed Lutfi al-Hour, 22.

Between 11:05pm on Monday, 12 January 2009, and 11:18am Wednesday, 14 January 2009, Israeli aircraft raided six houses in Rafah. The houses were owned by Zakaryia Abdul-Al; Emad Abu Kirshin; Zakaryia Abdul-Al; Emad Kawari; Qishta family; and Emad Shaath. The six houses were completely destroyed. A mosque located near one of them was also damaged.

At approximately 10:10pm on Monday, Israeli aircrafts raided the fishing haven in Rafah, destroyed several boats and fishermen’s storage rooms.

Between 6:18pm on Monday, 12 January 2009, and 12:50am Tuesday, 13 January 2009, Israeli aircrafts launched 32 air raids against various targets. Thirty-six missiles were fired, most of which hitting spots on the borderline between Rafah and Egypt, where tunnels are believed to exist. Reports from Rafah indicate that shrapnel injured people in the Rafah central market, more than a kilometer deep in the refugee camp.

At 8pm on Tuesday, 13 January 2009, an Israeli aircraft fired a missile at a farm in al-Shoka village in Rafah, killing two men. Their bodies were found in the farm in the next morning. They were identified as:

  • Mohammed Abdul-Muti Abu Snaimeh, 28; and
  • Muneer Abdul-Aziz Abu Snaimeh, 23.

At 9am today, Wednesday, 14 January 2009, Israeli aircrafts raided an unfinished housing project northwest of Tel al-Sultan neighborhood in Rafah. This project, which is funded by the United Nations Development Program, is aimed to re-house hundreds of families whose homes had been destroyed by the IOF in Rafah during the past few years.

As IOF’s attacks have continued, more civilians have been forced to evacuate their homes throughout the Gaza Strip. More than 30,000 people have found shelter in UNRWA schools; however, at least 200,000 people have already left their homes. Bloodshed and displacement continue in the midst of a severe humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Most of the population do not have access to water. Moreover, the health sector is still suffering from an enormous load of injured and killed persons 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 house 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.

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