Al Mezan Center For Human Rights 27 October 2008
Amidst the tightened siege imposed by the Israeli Occupying Forces (IOF) on the Gaza Strip, the IOF continues to open fire on areas adjacent to the eastern border. This morning it targeted a school at Khizaa town in the southeast of the Gaza Strip, injuring a girl inside her classroom.
According to the Center’s investigations, IOF troops, which are fortified and stationed along the eastern border line, opened fire on Khizaa town, east of Khan Younis, at around 8:15am on Monday, 27 October 2008. Aziza Sulaiman Qdeih, 15, was injured by a live bullet’s shrapnel to the nose while she was at her first-story classroom in the Shuhada Khizaa high school. She sustained minor injuries, according to medical sources.
The high school is located nearly 700 meters away from the borderline. The shooting incident caused a state of panic among the school students. The Center’s information says the IOF opened intensive fire on the town continuously for nearly 15 minutes.
Al Mezan documentation indicates that since the start of the second Palestinian intifada in 2000, the IOF has continued to target schools and their surrounding areas, including the UNRWA [the UN agency for Palestine refugees]-operated schools. Dozens of children were injured and hundreds were intimidated. This also resulted in the killing of 19 school children since the breakout of the start of the intifada, who were either at school or in their way to or from school.
This attack comes amidst a tightened siege imposed by the IOF on the Gaza Strip. Dozens of Palestinian children have died due to lack of health care and restrictions on access to hospitals in addition to the exacerbating condition of the public health and environment caused by the siege. This is in addition to the siege devastating economic and social impacts. Poverty stands at approximately 80 percent and unemployment 45 percent in Gaza. Moreover, the restrictions on movement prevent hundreds of households from meeting family members.
Al Mezan Center for Human Rights condemns the targeting of a school by the IOF as well as the continuous random shooting on the areas adjacent to Gaza’s border line. It also condemns the continuous, tightened siege on the OPT and the Gaza Strip in particular by the IOF. These restrictions constitute serious violations of the freedom of movement. The Center also stresses that the above-mentioned practices are grave breaches of the rules of the IHL and principles of the human rights.
The Center highly appreciates the efforts of the international non-governmental organizations aimed at exerting pressure to lifting the siege of Gaza, including the Free Gaza boats. It calls on the international community, especially the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Times of War, to take effective action without delay to provide protection for Palestinian civilians.