Hundreds dead, thousands injured and displaced

4:40pm Gaza Time (+2 GMT):

The Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) has continued its military operation — code-named “Cast Lead” — against the Gaza Strip for the seventh consecutive day. Air raids and attacks from ground forces and naval vessels have continued to target civilian objects. There has been an increase in the air raids targeting houses of resistance members. The number of people who have been killed in IOF’s attacks has reached 353, including 59 children and 14 women. This figure reflects only the cases which Al Mezan Center has been able to verify, and is expected to rise as many casualties were buried by their families without being registered at hospitals and others remain under the rubble of destroyed buildings. Many attacks targeted open fields, though not far from urban areas. IOF also targeted another rescue team in Deir al-Balah.

At approximately 2:40pm yesterday, Thursday 1 January 2008, Israeli aircrafts fired heavy missiles at the house of Nizar Rayyan, a leader in the Hamas movement, in the Jabaliya refugee camp, causing massive destruction in the camp and killing 16 of its residents, 11 of whom were children. The victims were identified as:

  • 49-year-old Nizar Abdul-Qadir Rayyan;
  • 40-year-old Nawal Ismail Rayyan;
  • 46-year-old Hyiam Abdul-Rahman Rayyan;
  • 45-year-old Iman Khalil Rayyan;
  • 25-year-old Shirin Said Rayyan;
  • 2-year-old Asad Nizar Rayyan;
  • 3-year-old Usama Nizar Rayyan;
  • 3-year-old Aiysha Nizar Rayyan;
  • 4-year-old Reem Nizar Rayyan;
  • 5-year-old Halima Nizar Rayyan;
  • 5-year-old Meryam Nizar Rayyan;
  • 6-year-old Abdul-Rahman Nizar Rayyan;
  • 12-year-old Abdul-Qadir Nizar Rayyan;
  • 12-year-old Ayia Nizar Rayyan;
  • 15-year-old Zainab Nizar Rayyan;
  • 16-year-old Ghassan Nizar Rayyan

The victims are from the same family. The body of Ghassan was still under the rubble of the house at the time this release was drafted. Moreover, 12 people, including five children and one woman, were injured this raid. It also destroyed 10 houses completely and caused damage to another dozens of other houses.

At approximately 11:35pm on the same day, Israeli aircraft raided the al-Khulafa Mosque, which is located near Rayyan’s house, destroying the mosque completely and damaging tens of houses in the area, some for the second time on the same day.

Also in northern Gaza, Israeli aircraft raided the al-Hawouz Hill at approximately 3:30pm yesterday. They fired three heavy missiles at the area, killing two children. They were identified as six-year-old girl Oyoun Jihad al-Naslah and her brother al-Muoiz. Forty other people were injured in this raid, including 27 children and five women. Yesterday, Al Mezan Center’s press release mentioned this case and included initial information about it, including that a woman was killed in it; however, the number and identity of the casualties have been verified as above.

At approximately 3:10pm, also Thursday, Israeli aircrafts fired a missile into a crowd in the al-Amal neighborhood in Beit Hanoun, north of the Gaza Strip. This raid coincided with the presence of many worshippers who were leaving a nearby mosque. Seventeen people were injured including nine children and a woman. Medical sources reported that three of the victims sustained critical injuries. Today, Friday, medical sources announced the death of 24-year-old Fadi Nasser Shabat, who was injured in this attack. In addition, medical sources reported the death of 19-year-old Bilal Ghabayin, who was injured in an Israeli raid on a truck near Sammor Blacksmith on Monday 29 December 2008.

More Palestinians were killed in Israeli raids since yesterday evening as Israeli air attacks targeted more mosques, houses and open fields near residential areas across the Gaza Strip. At 4:30am today, Israeli aircrafts bombarded open fields in the al-Nazzaz area eastern Beit Hanoun, injuring six people including two children and one woman. An elderly passerby was also killed when an air raid targeted the house of Ibrahim al-Mutawaq in the town of Jabaliya, north of the Gaza Strip. The man was identified as 50-year-old Nafith al-Mutawaq.

In Gaza City, IOF targeted the car of Jamal Ali al-Dardasawi with a missile at approximately 1:30pm yesterday, killing him immediately.

Medical sources announced the death of six-year-old girl Kristin al-Turk, who was injured at 10am yesterday in an Israeli air raid on a poultry farm near Palestine Stadium in the middle of Gaza City. Medical sources also announced the death of a 10-year-old child, Hamada Ibrahim Msabbeh, who was injured in an Israeli air raid on eastern Gaza City’s neighborhoods of al-Zeitoun and al-Tuffah at approximately 8:35am on today, Friday 2 January 2009. Twenty other people were injured in Gaza City since yesterday midnight. Of them, three were children and three women.

IOF’s attacks continued to threaten and injure the lives of rescue crews and medical crews. Yesterday, Israeli aircraft bombarded a car parked at the entrance of the Sheikh Radwan clinic. At approximately 9:40am today, aircraft bombarded the house of Nazmi Mhanna in the town of Deir al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip. They fired missiles at the house for a second time after a rescue team from the Palestine Red Crescent Society had arrived at the scene, thus injuring two rescue workers: 26-year-old Mazin Subhi Abu Mesbih and 40-year-old Awni Khattab. Their ambulance was also damaged.

Eighteen people were also injured in central Gaza, including three children, one of whose wounds were described as severe.

While drafting this press release, initial reports indicated that Israeli aircraft bombarded the house of a member of Hamas in al-Nuseirat refugee camp. At the same time, aircrafts raided an open field in the al-Qarara town, north of Khan Younis, killing three children who were playing there. They were identified as:

  • 8-year-old Abdul-Sattar al-Astal;
  • 9-year-old Iyad Abed-Rabu al-Astal;
  • and his brother, 12-year-old Mohammed Abed-Rabu al-Astal.

Some 20 minutes later, Israeli aircrafts bombarded a house in Khan Younis refugee camp, injuring five people, including two women.

According to monitoring by Al Mezan Center’s field workers, more civilians have been evacuating their homes all over the Gaza Strip, either because they were destroyed by IOF or out of fear of destruction. In particular, people residing near the borders with Egypt and Israel left their homes following Israeli bombardment and shelling of their areas. Moreover, people whose homes have been destroyed and damaged as a result of Israeli bombardment sought shelter elsewhere, mostly with relatives. Moreover, hundreds of families have left their homes following telephone calls from the Israeli army informing their neighbors that their homes would be bombarded from the air. Al Mezan estimates that at least 2,210 families have been displaced as a result to Israeli attacks or threatened attacks on civilian areas across the Gaza Strip. In Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, 200-300 people have sought shelter in an UNRWA [the United Nations agency for Palestine refugees] school where they have receive aid from UNRWA. Another 100 people have taken shelter in another school in the town. Moreover, following an air raid that killed two children in northern Gaza’s al-Nada Towers, some 600 people left their homes and took shelter in the Khalil Uwaida School.

In the meantime, the humanitarian conditions have continued to deteriorate in the beleaguered Gaza Strip as food, medical and fuel supplies continue to be disrupted by Israel. There is a serious lack of water in houses and the supply of cooking gas has already depleted. Foodstuffs, especially bread, have been particularly lacking. Gaza has also been experiencing increasing hours of electricity outage, in Gaza City reaching as long as four days now.

Reports also indicate that the health system is close to collapse as hospitals and clinics suffer a very high case load while there are shortages in medical supplies and personnel. The high numbers of casualties resulting from Israeli attacks has added enormous pressure on the health system.

Al Mezan Center for Human Rights expresses its outrage over the continued inaction of the international community in the face of IOF’s continued violations of the international humanitarian law (IHL) and human rights in the Gaza Strip. The failure to take any action continues despite the enormous amount of information about the consequences of Israel’s conduct towards human life and well being in the Strip, which have been heavily reported by the media and human rights organizations in the Strip. Al Mezan Center asserts that according to its continuous monitoring of the situation in Gaza, Israel has been perpetrating grave breaches of IHL, amounting to war crimes and crimes against humanity, by deliberately targeting civilian premises in highly dense areas without observing the principles of proportionality, distinction and military necessity. In doing so, Israel is showing despicable disregard to civilian life.

Therefore, the Center reiterates its calls for an urgent intervention by the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilians in Times of War, of 1949, including by convening their conference, to consider the breaches by Israel of its nonderogable obligations under the Convention, and to take the necessary measures to ensure the respect of its rules with regard to the Israeli military actions in Gaza. Civil society organizations are also called upon to exert pressure on their governments so that they act in conformity with their human rights and humanitarian obligations.

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