15 December 2002
In a continuation of the military actions against Palestinian civilians and their property, on Sunday evening, 15 December 2002, Israeli occupying forces demolished 16 houses and destroyed 8 greenhouses in the ‘Oraiba area in Rafah.
According to PCHR’s investigations, at approximately 16:00 on Sunday, 15 December 2002, two military bulldozers, four tanks, an armored personnel carrier and 15 military jeeps of the Israeli occupying forces thrust approximately 150m into ‘Oraiba area in the northwest of Rafah.
They demolished 16 houses and destroyed 8 greenhouses, a Dairy farm and a smithy’s workshop. PCHR’s field officer in Rafah reported that the Israeli forces called out to the Palestinian civilian population of the area through loudspeakers and demanded that they leave their homes.
The residents were extremely terrified by them. Five women went into shock and lost conscious. They were evacuated to hospital. Then, Israeli soldiers demolished the houses and destroyed the greenhouses and other civilian property. Israeli soldiers also fired at members of staff from the Palestine Television network, forcing them to leave the area.
It is worth mentioning that Israeli occupying forces had threatened through loudspeakers to demolish those houses on Friday, 13 December 2002, but they abstained. Owners of those houses did not receive any written warning that their houses were to be demolished, and they were not given an adequate space of time to resort to the judiciary.
The demolition of those houses has rendered approximately 120 people, including dozens of women and children, homeless in this cold weather. Thus, the number of Palestinian houses demolished by Israeli occupying forces in the Gaza Strip since the beginning of this Intifada has mounted to approximately 700; this doesn’t include the thousands of other houses that have been damaged.
PCHR strongly condemns such systematic and calculated attacks carried out by the Israeli forces against Palestinian civilians and their property.
PCHR considers that the silence of the international community towards such crimes serves to encourage Israel and its occupying forces to perpetrate more of these actions.
So, PCHR calls upon the international community to stop its silence and immediately intervene to stop such crimes. PCHR also reminds the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 again of their legal obligations not only to respect the Convention, but also to ensure respect for it, and consequently take crucial steps to stop these grave breaches of the Convention perpetrated by Israel.