Israel executes four in Gaza; siege affects access to drinking water

The Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) continued to seal off the Gaza Strip for the eleventh day in a row, in an escalation of the collective punishment of Gaza’s population imposed since 2000. The IOF resumed its military attacks and killed four Palestinians this morning in an air strike in east Gaza.

The humanitarian conditions have quickly deteriorated in the Gaza Strip as Israel’s tight siege has affected all aspects of Palestinians’ lives and violated their human rights, which are protected by international human rights and international humanitarian law.

Gaza’s power plant has suspended its work for the third day in a row due to lack of fuel necessary to run it. Hospitals and clinics are greatly affected. Not only do they suffer from suspension of surgery sections and intensive care unis, but also from the damage to vaccines and serums that are preserved in refrigerators. Moreover, tens of thousands of Palestinians suffer from a severe shortage of drinking water, especially those who live in tall buildings and have no access to water even when municipalities manage to pump water to their area.

Municipalities cannot run their water pumps for sufficient periods of time due to power failure.

Power failure also disrupts sewage treatment plants and internal transportation due to the lack of fuel. Gas stations are now empty after the IOF stopped pumping fuel supplies for the eleventh day in a row.

Power failure and the lack of fuel negatively impact the education sector especially that the crisis is worsening with the start of school mid-term exams. Students and teachers also have difficulties when they go to their schools and universities.

The Gaza siege is continuously tightened as IOF resumed military attacks and killings of Palestinians in Gaza. This morning, Sunday, 16 November 2008, the IOF killed four Palestinians in an air strike in eastern Gaza city. The victims were identified as Talal al-Amoudi (23), Muhammad Hassouna (22), Ahmad al-Hilo (22), and Basil al-Uff (21).

Al Mezan Center for Human Rights is highly concerned with the IOF’s determination on imposing collective punishment on the Gaza Strip in spite of the appeals and frequent condemnations by the United Nations and other international and local human rights and humanitarian organizations.

The Center warns the international community about the outcome of ignoring the exacerbating humanitarian conditions in the Gaza Strip and about the international community’s failure to fulfill its legal and ethical responsibilities towards civilians in the Strip. This silence, particularly in light of the IOF’s contempt for European Union consuls and representatives last Thursday [when it denied them entrance to the Gaza Strip], serves only to encourage Israel to proceed with its violations.

Therefore, Al Mezan Center asserts that the international community and the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention in particular must assume their legal and ethical responsibilities and take immediate action to end Israel’s gross violations and provide international protection for civilians. The Center also believes that the international community’s action is significant in view of the threats of a humanitarian catastrophe in the Gaza Strip if the IOF continue to imposing the tight siege on it.

This press release was edited for clarity.

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