For the 5th consecutive day, Israeli occupying forces continued military operations in the al-Salam and al-Brazil neighborhoods of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. Israeli occupying forces moved into al-Salam neighborhood on Tuesday morning, 14 October 2003 and into al-Brazil neighborhood the following day.
At the time of writing, 4 Palestinians, including a woman, have been killed in the two areas, and 24 have been wounded, including 9 children. 3 brothers were among the injured, after sustaining serious wounds while attempting to evacuate an injured person, who later died.
The incursion into al-Brazil neighborhood is the third carried out by Israeli occupying forces in the area in the past week. Israeli occupying forces first moved into Rafah refugee camp on Friday morning, 10 October 2003, in an operation that resulted in widespread damage and many civilian casualties.
According to information available to PCHR, after Israeli occupying forces moved into the al-Salam and al-Brazil neighborhoods, they took up positions on the roofs of a number of houses. Israeli forces detained the residents of each house in one room and conducted raids of other houses in the area, forcing the residents to vacate the buildings.
Local residents told PCHR’s field worker via telephone that Israeli occupying forces have so far demolished 6 houses in al-Brazil and 3 in al-Salam. They also destroyed a foodstuff factory, an electrical shop and much of the civilian infrastructure. Israeli forces have denied access to humanitarian organizations attempting to enter the areas and in one reported case an UNRWA water truck was fired upon by Israeli forces. Ambulances have also been denied access to affected areas, preventing many of the wounded from being evacuated to hospitals. Some of the wounded have been transported to hospitals by civilian vehicles, despite the severe risks involved.
During the incursion into al-Brazil neighborhood on Thursday and Friday, 16 and 17 October 2003, a number of Palestinian resistance men clashed with Israeli occupying forces, resulting in the deaths of 2 armed Palestinians: Walid Mohammed Younis ‘Abdul Wahab, 37, hit by a live bullet to the chest; and Tariq Subaih Abu al-Husain, 39, hit by several live bullets to the chest and the right shoulder.
Following intense shelling on Saturday morning, 18 October, 2003, Widad Kamel al-‘Ajrami, 33, along with her husband and 2 of her brothers, found an injured member if the Palestinian resistance outside their house in al-Brazil neighborhood. Soon after, the shelling resumed, wounding the 4 Palestinians. Widad was severely injured and later died from her wounds after being evacuated to hospital. The wounded member of the Palestinian resistance was identified as Hussam ‘Omar al-Mughayar, 22. He was hit by several live bullets to the abdomen and also succumbed to his injuries.
PCHR remains deeply concerned about the ongoing attacks by Israeli occupying forces on Palestinian civilians and property. PCHR calls upon the international community to immediately intervene to stop such attacks.
PCHR reiterates its call for the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 to fulfill their legal obligations to ensure respect for the Convention and take effective measures to stop grave breaches of the convention perpetrated by Israeli occupying forces in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.