Since the wide-scale Israeli military assault on the northern part of the Gaza Strip, 116 Palestinians have been killed, including 29 children and 18 Palestinians in other parts of Gaza. At least 381 Palestinians, including 128 children were injured. Numerous homes and private property have also been destroyed as IOF utilize air force and heavy tanks in this military operation. In addition, as the incursion continues, the civilian population of the area suffer shortage in food and water supply. In the areas which IOF occupy civilians lack the most basic needs. Al Mezan is still receiving plights from people who have been in urgent need for medicine and water.
Events of day 14, Tuesday 12 October 2004
IOF’s military operation in North Gaza entered its 14th day today, 12 October 2004. According to Al Mezan’s fieldworkers, IOF demolished 76 homes completely and hundreds of homes partially since 28 September 2004. They also leveled an area of 480 dunams of farmland, most of which in this area. Due to the continued use of excessive force by IOF, 116 Palestinians have been killed and 381 wounded during the past twelve days. Among the deceased are 29 children. In addition, IOF destroyed numerous public facilities, including police and security posts, schools, mosques and kindergartens were damaged or destroyed.
At approximately 7pm Monday 11 October 2004, IOF opened machinegun fire towards Qleebo and the Education neighborhoods in Beit Lahia. They also fired a tank shell at the area. It hit a spot near Beit Lahia Girls school. No casualties were reported. Numerous homes, one mosque and the school building were damaged however.
Al Mezan’s fieldworker in north Gaza reported that IOF destroyed part of the Palestinian Military Intelligence office near Qleebo hill at 8pm yesterday. Acts of bulldozing continued in the same area over night.
Residents of Jabalia and Beit Lahia informed the Center that Israeli tanks fired four tank shells towards Tel Az Zaatar and Qleebo neighborhoods yesterday night. Many homes were damaged. One of the shells fell into a crowd of civilians in Block 4 in Jabalia refugee camp, but did not explode. Sources in the Palestinian Police said that a technical team removed the shell from the area safely.
At approximately 11am today, Tuesday 12 October 2004, the IOF shot 10-year-old Ghadeer Jaber Mkhemar, from Khan Younis. Witnesses said IOF troops opened fire from Neve Dekalim settlement towards the UNRWA Al Khalidyeh Primary School, which is located in Khan Younis refugee camp. The schoolgirl sustained critical wounds in the chest while she was inside her classroom.
At 5:45am today, Tuesday October 12, 2004, IOF demolished the houses of Majid Abu Nadi, Majdi Abu Nadi and Ahmad Ad Dabbagh. Twenty people used to live in these homes, including 15 children. Yesterday, the residents of these homes were forced to evacuate them under the frequent fire of IOF. Al Mezan received calls from them asking help to evacuate them safely due to the imminent risk on their life due to the shooting towards their homes.
A 35-year-old Palestinian, Salih Abu Al Ghseen, who suffers mental disorder, was killed by IOF east of Wadi As Salqa village, in the middle of the Gaza Strip. IOF reported his killing to Palestinian officials today. He was shot dead by IOF on Friday 8 October 2004. His body, however, was not delivered to the Palestinian National Authority until today.
IOF continued its closure of the main streets in the Gaza strip dividing it into three separate segments. Vehicular movement is still banned through the Abu Holy checkpoint, in the middle of the Gaza Strip, and the beach road, south to Gaza City. Al Mezan’s fieldworkers reported that IOF allowed movement for small groups of vehicles for one hour today. The Center is still receiving reports about civilians who have been in crucial conditions due to the long closure of these checkpoints, especially those who need to travel for health care or business. The shortage in basic goods in the southern areas of the strip continued.
In his affidavit to Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, Muhammad Yousif Al Habel, who is aged 42 years, the following testimony:
“I am from the town of Beit Lahia, father to seven children and work as a butcher in the town. At approximately 11:15am on Thursday 30 September 2004, I was sitting in front a pharmacy in my neighborhood with the pharmacist, Muhammad Al Masri, and my father, Yousif Al Habel. The pharmacy is located in the Al Manshiyeh neighborhood, about half a kilometer from the Education Conjunction in Beit Lahia. We were sitting on plastic chairs on the side pavement. It was quiet in the neighborhood, the street was empty and we did not see any armed people in it. We were listening to the local radio station, Al Hurriya, to follow the incursion news. Suddenly Muhammad Al Masri shouted that there was shooting and bent with his chair backward. I jumped from my chair and hurried into the pharmacy. When I was inside I saw my father behind me. He was bleeding in his side, under his arm. I told him that he was wounded and he asked me if I was fine. He was falling down, and I caught him. We fell down together. I saw blood in his mouth, so I carried him with the help of Muhammad Al Masri, and we hurried to the Kamal Udwan Hospital. He was taken to the Reception Department. A doctor came and told me that he passed away before we reached the hospital.
Palestinian, Israeli and international statements
On 11 Oct 2004, the European Union (EU) condemned the Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip. The foreign Minister of 25 EU states called for “an immediate end to Israel’s military operations in Gaza”. They also said that “a unilateral withdrawal from Palestinian territory could not be a substitute for a two-state political solution”. The meeting statement said that “the EU condemns the disproportionate nature of Israeli
military actions in the Gaza strip”. It acknowledged Israel’s right to defend itself against missile attacks but “[Israel’s] actions have claimed the lives of many innocent civilians, including children, and left many injured.” The Ministers also stressed that any withdrawal from Gaza could not replace a two-state solution for the Middle East conflict as foreseen in the Quartet’s Road Map. They added that the “EU would not recognize any changes to the borders as they were before the 1967 Six-Day War”.
In a forum organized by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), the League of Arab States and the Palestinian Authority at the United Nations headquarters in Beirut, participants from across the region called “The Arab International Forum on Rehabilitation and Development in the Occupied Palestinian Territory: Towards an Independent State”. The Forum’s aim is to “enhance Arab and international support for rehabilitation and development in the occupied Palestinian territories, despite ongoing conflict and occupation.
Following IOF firing a UN-flagged school in Khan Younis refugee camp, which caused critical injury to a school girl, the UNRWA issued a press release and demanding halt to targeting its schools by the Israeli army. In the release, the Agency reported that this was the fourth incident of its kind. It asserted that it frequently asked the Israeli authorities to stop such acts, which they had denied.
The United Nations team which arrived at Jerusalem two days ago to investigate Israel’s allegations against the UNRWA, finished its mission today. Israeli sources said they had a positive impression during their meeting with the team, anmd that they hoped the team would not mention the Israeli claim that an UNRWA ambulance carried a Qassam rocket. The team will publish its report after it is approved by the UN Secretary-general, Kofi Annan.
Israeli sources announced today that the Israeli army would initiate probe in the case of the killing of 13-year-old Palestinian girl. This development came after the soldiers serving under the command of the perpetrator testified that the killing was deliberate and unnecessary. One of the soldiers said they commander knew it was a little girl and that she was severely wounded. He added that the soldiers shouted asking the commander not to ‘confirm the killing’ at such a close range, but he wouldn’t respond. The girl was killed in her school uniform near an Israeli post in Rafah, southern the Gaza Strip. Medical sources reported to the center that medics extracted 15 bullets from the girl’s body.
Al Mezan statement
Al Mezan Center for Human Right gravely condemns Israel’s continued collective punishment of Palestinian civilians in the OPT, and especially in the North Gaza area. The center emphasizes that IOF committed violations, and continue, serious violations of human rights is this area, especially the arbitrary shelling and bombardment of residential areas, the use of excessive and disproportionate force, the obstruction of ambulance and humanitarian teams movement and, he destruction of homes and private properties. Such acts breach the International Humanitarian Law and human rights standards and necessitate urgent action by the international community.
The Center believes that the failure of the international community to effectively intervene has only urged Israel to continue its breach of international law. Al Mezan calls for urgent international community to protect Palestinian civilians in the OPT and to put an end to its collective punishment of Palestinian civilians, especially as the humanitarian situation of tens of thousands of civilians is deteriorating rapidly.
Al Mezan calls upon the United Nations Security Council to condemn the Israeli breaches of the international law and to initiate investigations in the IOF’s violations of human rights in the Gaza Strip.
Due to the Israeli incursion in North Gaza and to the presence of IOF tanks 150 meters from its office, which incurs serous dangers on the center’s office and the safety of its staff, Al Mezan Center for Human Rights was forced to close its main office in Jabalia camp. The Center receives the cases who need intervention in person or by telephone in its Gaza office in Izzadin Al Qassam St., tel/fax: +970 (0)8 2820447/2.