The Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) have escalated their aggression against the Gaza Strip. IOF yesterday killed two children and injured two others in an air strike on the southern Gaza town of Rafah. This escalation comes amid a continued tight blockade of all Gaza border crossings, which threatens of a humanitarian crisis in the Strip.
According to Al Mezan’s field investigations, at approximately 2:25pm on Tuesday, 2 December 2008, an Israeli scouting drone fired a missile towards a group of children who were playing near their houses, which are located north to the Gaza International Airport in al-Shouka area, east of Rafah. As a result, two boys were killed: 16-year-old Ramzi Ibrahim al-Dehini and 15-year-old Omar Mosa Abu Udeh. The first was killed by shrapnel wounds to different parts of his body while the latter was blown up into pieces. Another two children were also injured in the same attack: 15-year-old Hani Awwad Abu Ishiban and 15-year-old Khalid Nasser al-Dehini; both sustained critical wounds from shrapnel and are receiving medical care at the Gaza European Hospital in Rafah.
This attack comes as the IOF continue to arbitrarily tighten the strangulating siege of the Gaza Strip for the 28th consecutive day, depriving the population from access to basic needs including food, water, fuel and medical supplies.
The siege threatens a serious humanitarian crisis, particularly as power blackouts have been occurring daily for 50 percent to 60 percent of the time in wide areas of Gaza as the only power plant in Gaza stopped operations after running out of fuel. Furthermore, flour mills in Gaza have announced that their stocks have been depleted, and three of them already stopped operating.
Moreover, the IOF continues to prevent transferring Israeli currency (the New Israeli Shekel), which is the main currency used in the Gaza Strip, to Palestinian banks. If this suspension continues, government employees’ monthly payments and the UN agency for Palestine refugees’ (UNRWA) poverty program may be impossible to deliver this month. This will exacerbate the current humanitarian situation and affect Gazans’ ability to celebrate the Eid al-Adha holiday (8-12 December), and will particularly affect poor families.
Al Mezan strongly condemns the crime which claimed the lives of two children and injured two others. It renews its strong condemnation of the continued Israeli siege of the Gaza Strip, which represents a measure of collective punishment and, therefore, a grave breach of international humanitarian law that brings about gross violations of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. Given its duration, magnitude and outcomes, Al Mezan believes that this siege amounts to a war crime directed against civilians.
Al Mezan stresses that the disastrous impacts of this blockade has grave impact on children, women, elderly and the sick in particular. It represents an outrageous detachment by Israel from its legal obligations under international law.
Al Mezan therefore reiterates its calls for the international community to immediately intervene and put an end to the Israeli human rights violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, particularly the Gaza Strip. Al Mezan also calls on the international human rights and humanitarian organizations to denounce Israel’s violations and increase their activities in order to disclose the Israeli practices and provide assistance for the civilians who are struck by them.