Gaza Daily Update, 7.00 PM

Palestinian woman watching destruction in Jabalia refugee camp. (PCHR)

Since the wide-scale Israeli military assault on the northern part of the Gaza Strip, 133 Palestinians have been killed, including 31 children and 24 Palestinians in other parts of Gaza. At least 432 Palestinians, including 139 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 17, Friday 15 October 2004

IOF’s military operation in North Gaza entered its 17th day today, 15 October 2004. According to Al Mezan’s fieldworkers, 133 Palestinians have been killed and at least 432 wounded from IOF fire. Among the deceased are 31 children. Moreover, IOF demolished 85 homes completely and hundreds of homes partially since 28 September 2004. They also leveled an area of 610 dunams of farmland, most of which in this area. IOF also destroyed numerous public facilities, including police and security posts, schools, mosques and kindergartens were damaged or destroyed. The besieged population in several neighborhoods in north Gaza live an alarming humanitarian crisis under severe shortage of food, water and medicine. International humanitarian agencies voiced their concern about such a crisis one week earlier.

With continued closure for over two weeks, the civilian population of the Gaza Strip suffer increasing difficulty I terms of movement and access due to restrictions on their movement by IOF. Hundreds of people who need medical care are not able to reach health facilities outside their towns or camps. The residents of the southern parts of the strip lack basic goods and fuel. Moreover, the educational institutions cannot work properly due to inability of their personnel to access them.

At 8am today, IOF fired artillery towards Al Kashif Hill, east of Jabalia camp. No casualties were reported. The shelling caused severe damage to hom,es and property, however.

At 3am, also today, IOF launched a missile towards the Western part of Jabalia camp. It killed 21-year-old Wail Mousa Salih, from Jabalia camp, 25-year-old Ameen Khalil Mas’oud and 20-year-old Raid Khalil Abu Saif, both from Gaza city. Several homes were lightly damaged in the attack.

At approximately 3:20am today, IOF fired artillery towards Al Karama Street, east of Jabalia. It hit a livestock farm destroying it and killing the birds in it. Eyewitnesses informed Al Mezan that Israeli tanks which were stationed near the Jabalia Eastern Cemetery fired it.

About one hour later, Israeli tanks fired artillery towards the Civil Administration area eastern Jabalia. Several homes were severely damaged.

At approximately 7am today, Israeli tanks opened machinegun fire towards Tel Az Zaatar neighborhood. The homes of Bashir Salha, which is located in an apartment building, was burnt due to the shelling. The Center’s fieldworker reported that no casualties occurred as the resident of the building had evacuated it earlier due to the frequent shelling by IOF.

At approximately 8am today, Israeli tanks fired two shells towards the Jabalia Youth Club. The club and a nearby school were damaged while the attack caused no injuries. At 11:20am, tanks fired another shell at the same area and caused damage to several homes.

Al Mezan’s fieldworker in North Gaza reported that IOF opened machinegun fire towards Tel Az Zaatar neighborhood in Jabalia at 1:30pm today. The shelling was concentrated near Al Bashir mosque. Eyewitnesses said that they aw Israeli soldiers firing bombs from their rifles. No casualties were reported while numerous homes were damaged. About an hour later, IOF fired the same area with similar bombs. Two bombs hit the mosque and one hit the house of Zuiheer Dhahir. Fortunately, none of Dhahir’s 15-person-family was injured. Several children were treated from shock and numerous homes were damaged due to the shelling, which continued for 20 minutes.

At 5pm today, Israeli apaches opened machinegun fire towards Tel Az Zaatar neighborhood in Jabalia and caused damage to tens of homes. Residents of the neighborhood said the shelling damaged the water tanks, adding to the already lack of drinking water in the neighborhood.

At 5:20pm, 10 minutes after breakfast of the first day of Ramadan month, IOF opened fire towards Ezbet Abed Rabu neighborhood in Jabalia town. A 65-year-old woman, Fatima Muhammad Hussein, was killed from a live bullet in the head while she was inside her house.

Al Mezan’s fieldworker reported that the IOF started a major pull-out from North Gaza area at 6:30pm today. Lines of tanks and armored personnel carriers were seen leaving Jabalia, Beit Lahia and Beit Hanoun. This can be the end of a 17-day incursion in the area. It should be mentioned that Israeli officials said today that troops could carry out operations in the area at any time.

At 6:50pm today, 8-year-old Ahmad Rweshed, from Jabalia camp, was injured critically from a live bullet in the stomach. Witnesses reported that the child was playing with his light toy, which is a tradition during the month of Ramadan, when he was injured due to IOF fire as troops were leaving Jabalia.

Israeli, Palestinian and international statements

Following the Israeli Army’s conduct in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, the Israeli Peace Block (Gush Shalom) sent messages to Israel high ranking officers informing them that they were guilty of “offenses tantamount to war crimes”. The letter revealed the orgnization’s intention to initiate legal action against military officers based on substantial information regarding their conduct against palestinian civilians.

Israeli papers revealed settler attacks by Israeli settlers against international citizens in the West Bank. The victims include American and European citizens who were injured due to numerous attacks. The Israeli security forces did not act properly to stop such attacks according to the papers.

In its statement before the UN General Assembly Sixth Session on legal issues today, United Arab Emirates representative asserts the responsibility of the international community in ensuring Israel’s respect for the Fourth Geneva Convention in the OPT.

In a press conference held in Amman, Jordan, today, the UNRWA Commissioner-general, Peter Hansen, called for international pressure on Israel to ensure respect for its agreements with the Agency and the relevant provisions of international law. He called Israel, as an occupying power, to help UNRWA achieve its humanitarian work in the OPT asserting that the relation between UNRWA and Israel grew tense recently and that this tension was reflected on the Agency’s ability to deliver aid to Palestinian refugees. He also asserted that UNRWA will continue its work in spite of Israel’s restriction of its personnel and the killing of 11 of its employees since the year 2000. Mr. Hansen pointed out that Israel has not yet apologized for its practices and allegations against the Agency although it withdrew its allegations.

A former US National Security Council Advisor, Brent Scowcroft, said that the Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, aimed at preventing a Palestinian State when he initiated a unilateral pull-out from Gaza. He criticized, in an interview with the Financial Times, The US President’s one-sided policy towards the Israeli-Palestinian issue and the support he provided for Sharon. He added that Bush agrees on Israel’s oppression of Palestinians pointing out that Sharon used to call the American President after major assaults on Palestinians, and received support.

France condemned IOF’s opening threatening fire towards its diplomats in the Gaza Strip Wednesday. a French Foreign Ministry spokesperson said that Israeli soldiers fired near a well-flagged diplomatic vehicle although the diplomats followed the Israeli army’s security procedures. The incident took place near Erez crossing north of the Gaza Strip as the diplomats were in their way out of the Strip.

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.

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