At around 1 am on Tuesday, 18 May 2004, Israeli apaches fired two missiles on Block P in Rafah refugee camp killing three Palestinians and injuring five others. The three persons killed are: 24-year-old Muhammad Khalil Al Hindi; 27-year-old Walid Musa Al Jazzar; and 27-year-old Muhammad Abdul Rahman An Nawajha. They died from missiles shrapnel in different parts of their bodies.
At 4:10 am, IOF tanks and bulldozers entered the Tel Al Sultan neighborhood and the nearby so-calles Western refugee camp in Rafah. Israeli apaches fired two missiles on Bilal Ibn Rabah Mosque in Block Q in Western refugee camp, killing five Palestinians. Eyewitnesses reported that after the first missile had killed one person, a second missile was fired on a group of people that had gathered to help. All of the victims were going to the dawn prayer at the mosque, which was scheduled at 4:10 am. The five persons killed are: 17-year-old Hany Muhammad Qufeh; 24-year-old Tariq Ahmad Sheikh Al Eid; 18-year-old Ibrahim Ismail Bal’awi, 17-year-old Muhammad Jasir Al Shair; and 18-year-old Ahmad Jasir Al Shair. They died from missile shrapnel in different parts of the body.
At the same time, The IOF entered Tel Al Sultan from the settlements of Morag and Rafah Yam. They attacked the Badr Camp, which was recently built to host Palestinians whose homes had been demolished in Rafah, and took control of all the streets in the neighborhood. IOF snipers took positions in high buildings and killed three Palestinians: 22-year-old Zyad Hussain Shabana; 34-year-old Imad Fadel Al Mghari; and 34-year-old Mahmud Ismail Abu Touq.
The director of Rafah’s only hospital Dr. Ali Mousa, reaffirmed that the hospital is facing serious difficulties to deal with the current number of injuries and fatalities due to its restrained capacity. He repeated that the hospital lacks an intensive care unit to deal with the important number of serious injuries. Of the twelve bodies currently located in the hospital morgue, eight cannot be identified by their families who are currently under siege. This will become problematic in view of the small size of the morgue.
This morning reports were received on a number of problems faced by emergency medical services in Rafah. Two additional fatalities in the western refugee camp of Rafah. However, ambulances were not authorized by the IOF to collect them. In another case, an ambulance was taking critical medical case to the European Hospital in Khan Yunis after coordination with the IOF and authorization to pass through a newly erected checkpoint. However, upon passing IOF soldiers fired at the ambulance.
Israeli Chief of Staff, Moshe Ya’alon, states that IOF will continue its ongoing operation in Rafah and that Palestinians “should stop smuggling tunnels if they want home demolitions to stop”.
Israeli Defense Minister, Shaul Mofaz, announced this morning that the IOF’s operation in Rafah will continue for as long as is necessary.
Eyewitnesses reported to Al Mezan that an Israeli tank fired at the guards of a construction site at 3 am this morning. After one of them escaped, the tank overturned the office container with two guards inside. The eyewitness said the two guards are in serious condition and will not survive if they do not obtain help. However, it is impossible to approach them while the tank is in the vicinity.
At 8:35 am today, Israeli apaches fired two missiles on the Block Q neighborhood in the Western refugee camp, east of Tel Al Sulta. Another four missiles were fired 20 minutes later, killing two Palestinians: Yousif Zahi Kahwash, aged 25, and Saeed Ibrahim Al Mghaiar, whose age was not reported. The two victims remained in the street and were not identified until 11.30 am when residents of the neighborhood managed to reach one of the bodies and to put it in a fridge. The other body was reportedly still in the street at 12 pm. Al Mezan’s fieldworker confirmed that IOF has restricted the movement of ambulances into the Tel Al Sultan neighborhood. Several ambulances were exposed to Israeli fire when they tried to approach the area.
Dar Al Kitab wa Al Sunna Society responsible for ambulance services reported that it lost contact with one of its ambulances near Tel Al Sultan. After investigation, it appeared that the ambulance staff had fled it after they were caught under intensive fire by IOF. One of the same ambulance’s staff confirmed to Al Mezan that the vehicle had been shelled by IOF when they were trying to collect injured people in Bader camp north of Tal Al Sultan at 3 am. They escaped and took refuge in a house in the area and remain stuck at the time of this report. Al Mezan’s lawyers have contacted the Israeli Army’s Legal Advisor to let them out of the area safely.
In a press release issued by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the UK Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, expressed deep concern about the ‘Israeli demolitions of Palestinian homes in Rafah’. ‘While I understand Israel’s need to defend itself, the demolition of homes is a form of collective punishment which harms innocent people. House demolitions fuel anger among Palestinians and in the region. Such actions are contrary to Israel’s commitment under the Roadmap and are simply unacceptable”, added Straw.
Israeli organization, Physician for Human Rights, is working on IOF allowing Palestinian ambulances into the besieged Tel Al Sultan area.