On Sunday 23 May 2004, the IOF tanks stormed the Al Brazil neighborhood at about 10am. Al Mezan’s fieldworker in Rafah reported that tanks took control of the main streets in the neighborhood and opened fire on the area before they proceeded to home demolitions and razing streets. Israeli security officials confirmed that the Rafah operation would yet go on for another several days.
IOF are continuing to block the streets leading to the Tel Al Sultan neighborhood and main street between Rafah and Khan Yunis on Sunday 23 May, 2004. They nevertheless pulled out of most of the neighborhood on Monday, 24th. According to Al Mezan’s documentation, at least 44 Palestinians have been killed in Rafah by the IOF since the beginning of the most recent military operation on Tuesday 18 May 2004. It is worth remnding that IOF killed another 15 Palestinians, all from missile attacks, during their incursion on 14 and 15 May, after an Israeli APC exploded in Rafah. This brings the toll of deaths in the town to 59 over the last ten days. 170 people have been wounded. During the same period IOF destroyed hundreds of civilians structures, especially homes. Al Mezan Center for Human Rights documented the demolition of over 300 homes in Block O, Tel Al Sultan, Al Brazil and Qishta neighborhoods, and knows about dozens of others, which could not be documented due to IOF presence in three locations.
Al Mezan has received pleas from Palestinian families in the Al Brazil neighborhood yesterday, Sunday 23 May 23 as IOF bulldozers started to destroy their homes. One family 9 (the Mousa family)refused to leave their two house and was mistreated by soldiers. Al Mezan’s lawyer contacted the Israeli Army Legal Advisor, who said he contacted IOF in the area and they said no people were inside. Demolition was going to continue. The lawyer made the Legl Advisor call the people while they were at home to prove the argument. The Center has been informed that one of the houses was partially destroyed, and the residents refused to leave their homes. In a phone call with Safa’ An-Namla, who lives in one of the two homes, she said that after bulldozers started to bulldoze her house, they made sure that the driver saw that many people were inside. Soldiers spoke with them with loudspeakers and ordered them to evacuate the houses immediately. Sfaa’ left the house with her aunt, holding a piece of white cloth. One soldier told them to talk to the commander. They refused and the soldier made them walk to a reltives house nearby. The soldier released a dog that was with him, and started to ask them questions about where the owner of the house was and where the tunnel was. When they told him the knew of no tunnels, he said they were ‘liars’.
Al Mezan has been informed that both of the Namlas’ houses are occupied by four families. The homes were not demolished completely. One of them was severely damaged and the other had some damage.
IOF withdrew the positions they occupied since the beginning of Operation Rainbow in Tel Al Sultan neighborhood. They are still however, in control of the southern outskirts of the Brazil neighborhood and they built new post in the Abu Halaweh area in eastern Rafah.
At approximately 3:30 pm Sunday 23 May 2003, Israeli tanks occupied the house of Jawdat Abdul Al after detaining its residents in one room. Two hours later, another 14 tanks moved from the Rafah Crossing and took control of another house, owned by Anwar Abdul Al, west to the Salah Ad-Din Street in the eastern part of Rafah. In addition, IOF bulldozers have been leveling agricultural land around this area.
People of Rafah mourned sixteen Palestinians, who were killed in the Tel Al Sultan neighborhood during IOF’s latest operation, in a big funeral march through the town and its refugee camp today at noon. The 16 bodies had been kept in a vegetables’ fridge in Rafah until their families could leave the neighborhood today. The Israeli forces, who are positioned at the Sallah Ad-Din gate, on the borderline, opened fire and injured Palestinians in the funeral as it passed the area.
Israeli tanks which are stationed in the south of Brazil neighborhood shelled the Bahloul building with a tank shell. Part of the 8-story building was destroyed and a fire started in it.
Since the early morning today, and despite IOF’s claimed full withdrawal from Rafah, Israeli tanks and bulldozers have stormed into Qishta Block, in the Brazil neighborhood at the borderline in the town. Al Mezan’s fieldworker reported that bulldozers destroyed about 40 homes until 6 pm. IOF are still demolishing more homes. This brings the total documented number of demolished home in the Brazil and As Salam neighborhoods to 135 homes since last Thursday. A final process of documentation is still impossible in the area as IOF are still stationed near the border, where much of damage was reported.
The Government of Kuwait condemned Israel’s operations in the Gaza Strip. In a statement released yesterday, the cabinet said that the Rafah operation was one more example of Israel’s organized terrorist practices against the Palestinian people.
Tanks are also positioned in the Qishta neighborhood near Block O at the borderline since the morning. This demolition is going unnoticed after the news coverage of IOF withdrawal from most of the positions they took control of in other neighborhood s in the town. Al Mezan lawyers have started legal action against IOF’s demolition of homes in the above mentioned Qishta neighborhood. Our lawyers are considering going to Israeli High Court to try to stop the demolitions. Contrary to the same Court’s ruling, IOF are carrying out these demolition without any ‘military necessity’. Eyewitnesses said that the area did not witness any clashes during the past days.
UNRWA has set up a new temporary camp to shelter about a hundred Palestinian families who became homeless owing to IOF’s home demolitions in Rafah during the last ten days. The tent-camp has been set up at the Al Khansaa School in Rafah Refugee Camp. Some 1000 people are temporarily living there and receive regular aid from UNRWA and other organizations, as well as the local community.
The Arab leaders statement at the end of their summit in Tunisia yesterday included condemning the Israeli violence against Palestinian civilians. The statement also included a condemnation of violence against civilians, including Israelis.
During the past few days, Israeli senior officials have stated that IOF may ease down home demolitions due to international pressure, but will keep its presence in Rafah. An Israeli Minister, Ged’on Ezra said that IOF started a campaign of information collection and will find other ways to strike ‘militants’. The same sources explained that plans for Rafah included ‘air strikes of ‘militants’. Al Mezan reminds that such extra-judicial killing, widely referred to as assassinations, have resulted in killings of numerous civilian. Since March 1, 2004, IOF killed 14 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip; only two of whom were claimed targeted by IOF. Although, in principle, extra-judicial executions are considered war crimes under international law, their serious implications on civilians life should be emphasized.
‘Barak: War on terror should not compromise human rights’. This was the title of an article by Yoval Yoaz on Israel’s Haaretz daily electronic version today. The article provides that the Israeli High Court’s president, Judge Aharon Barak, said that “Israel is today in the middle of a difficult war on terrorism. It is up to justice to give appropriate weight to security considerations, however there is the need to ensure that the rights of the individual are not compromised for the sake of the required information.” He added that particularly now with the cannons firing, it is important that we know what we are fighting for.” It is worth mentioning that two Palestinian human rights organizations and five other Israeli organizations petitioned four times to the Israeli High Court during the past ten days requesting the cancellation of home demolition orders. The Court, however, took the IOF’s arguments in all of the cases and did not give clear orders to stop violations of human rights.
Israeli leftist groups, human rights activists and academic said today that they refuse the appointment of an ex-IAF commander as Deputy Chief of Staff of the Israeli Army. They accused Dan Haluts of perpetrating war crimes. They also said they have petitioned to the Israeli High Court to halt his appointment, at least until his role in the assassination of Salah Shihadeh, in which 16 Palestinians were killed, by dropping a 2000-pound-bomb is revealed.
After dozens of reports by Palestinians, Israeli and international sources on the home demolitions in Rafah by IOF, the Israeli Army Chief of Staff, Moshe Yaalon, said today that the problem was not his forces performance in the field (Rafah), but Palestinians lies. He said that IOF destroyed 12 homes in the town since the beginning of their operation, according to Arabic version of the Israel Paper Yediut Ahronot.
List of the Palestinians killed during IOF’s operation in Rafah::
- Muhammad Khalil Al Jindi, 24, Missile shrapnel in different parts of the body;
- Walid Mousa Abu Jazar, 27, Missile shrapnel in different parts of the body;
- Muhammad Abdul Rahman An Nawajha, 27, Missile shrapnel in different parts of the body;
- Hany Muhammad Qufeh, 17, Missile shrapnel in different parts of the body;
- Tariq Ahmad Sheikh Al Eid, 24, Missile shrapnel in different parts of the body;
- Ibrahim Ismail Al Bal’awi, 18, Missile shrapnel in different parts of the body;
- Ismail Al Bal’awi (previous person’s father), 45, Missile shrapnel in different parts of the body;
- Muhammad Jasir Al Shair, 17, Missile shrapnel in different parts of the body;
- Ahmad Jasir Al Shair (previous person’s brother), 18, Missile shrapnel in different parts of the body;
- Zyad Hussain Shanana, 22, Missile shrapnel in different parts of the body;
- Imad Fadel Al Mghari, 34, Missile shrapnel in different parts of the body;
- Mahmud Ismail Abu Touq, 34, Missile shrapnel in different parts of the body;
- Yousif Zahi Qahwash, 25, Missile shrapnel in different parts of the body;
- Saeed Ibrahim Al Mghaiar, 23, Missile shrapnel in different parts of the body;
- Muhammad Abdullah Darweesh, 27, Missile shrapnel in different parts of the body;
- Ahmad Muhammad Al Mghaiar, 13, A live bullet in the head;
- Asmaa Ahmad Muhammad Al Mghaiar, 16, A live bullet in the head;
- Muhammad mas’ud Zourob, 33, A live bullet in the abdomen;
- Ibrahim Jihad Al Qun, 17, A live bullet in the head;
- Taysir Zaki Kaloub, 31, A live bullet in the abdomen;
- Shadi Fayiz Al Mghari, 24, A live bullet in the abdomen;
- Usama Abdullah Abu Nasser, 24, A live bullet in the head;
- Sabir Ahmad Abu Libdeh, 13, A live bullet in the head;
- Khalil Hasan Abu Saad, 37, A live bullet in the chest;
- Walid Naji Abu Qamar (Rafah march), 10, Shrapnel in different parts of the body;
- Muhammad Talal Abu Shaar (Rafah march), 20, Shrapnel in different parts of the body;
- Alaa Msallam Sheikh Al Eid (Rafah march), 20, Shrapnel in different parts of the body;
- Mahmud Tariq Mansour (Rafah march), 13, Shrapnel in different parts of the body;
- Fuad Khamis Al Saqqa (Rafah march), 31, Shrapnel in different parts of the body;
- Mubarak Saleem Al Hashash (Rafah march), 10, Shrapnel in different parts of the body;
- Rajab Nimir Barhoum (Rafah march), 17, Shrapnel in different parts of the body;
- Ahmad Jamal Abu Al Saeed (Rafah march), 18, Shrapnel in different parts of the body;
- Mahmud Jamal Al Mghari (Thursday), 21, Shrapnel in different parts of the body;
- Hamid Yasin Bahlul (Thursday), 18, Shrapnel in different parts of the body;
- Mahmud Fathi Deib (Thursday), 22, Shrapnel in different parts of the body;
- Mahmud Najeeb Al Akhras (Thursday), 18, Shrapnel in different parts of the body;
- Wail Muhammad Abu Jazar (Thursday), 18, Shrapnel in different parts of the body;
- Jamal Awad Al Assar (Thursday), 39, A live bullet in the head;
- Muhammad Ibrahim Jaber (Thursday), 27, A live bullet in the abdomen;
- Tamer Youniis Al Arja (Thursday), 3, Trauma following missile attack near his home;
- Khalid Abu Anzeh (Thursday), 37, Shrapnel in different parts of the body (found dead after 15 hours).
- Ahmad Salih Abu Syam (Friday), 45, A live bullet in the abdomen (injured on 15 May)
- Rawan Muhammad Abu Zaid (Saturday), 3, Two live bullets in the head and neck;
- Muhammad Samy Al Hams, 16, Wounded on 1 October 2000.