Red Cross prevented from accessing injured, starving survivors in Gaza

Palestinian children injured by Israeli tank fire in northeast Gaza City at a hospital on 8 January 2009. (Mohamed Al-Zanon/MaanImages)

1pm Gaza Time (+2hrs GMT)

The Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) continued its destruction of the Gaza Strip, systematically targeting civilians and civilian objects. Air raids and artillery attacks targeted homes, schools and medical teams. A unilateral ceasefire lasted for three hours yesterday; however, IOF’s attacks were resumed more fiercely after 4pm. Tens of thousands of civilians whose areas had been threatened with bombardment left their homes seeking safety. Civilians also left their homes seeking food and other essentials. Nevertheless, IOF carried out four attacks during the ceasefire, including an attack on a car in Jabaliya refugee camp, and shelling with heavy machine guns of a group of women carrying food to their homes in Ezbet Abed-Rabu eastern Jabaliya, injuring three of them. IOF also dropped leaflets warning the residents of Rafah who live along the border of heavy bombardment and ordering them to leave the area. Between 30,000 and 40,000 people left their homes as a result. Civilians are made to stay in open areas and schools in Rafah, all of which are not prepared for sheltering civilians.

Four days after submitting a request to the IOF, teams from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and ambulances from the Palestine Red Crescent Society were allowed yesterday to enter the eastern Gaza City of al-Zeitoun. In one of the houses they entered, they found four children next to their dead mother and a young man, too weak to stand up. Twelve corpses were lying on mattresses in the house. They also found 15 survivors from the IOF attack, including injured people. In another house, the rescue team found three corpses. IOF were positioned only 80 meters from these people but left them to stay with the unburied corpses of their family members and to reach the brink of starving to death. The ambulances were not permitted to reach the wounded people, who had been left for four days without help. The rescue team had to evacuate them on donkey cart. As the ICRC and human rights organizations continue to receive reports about similar cases in this neighborhood, the ICRC has not yet received information from the IOF concerning its request to search for the dead and survivors.

Despite the global plight protesting Israel’s campaign against the Gaza Strip, the IOF has continued to perpetrate war crimes with the failure by the UN Security Council and the international community to live up to their legal and moral responsibilities and bring such outrageous acts to an end. Al Mezan Center has continued its monitoring activities of the consequences of IOF’s attacks on the humanitarian and human rights situation in Gaza. The following sections provide accounts of the developments in the Gaza Strip’s five districts between 1pm yesterday and 1pm today.

1. North Gaza District: At approximately 11:45am yesterday, Wednesday, 7 January 2009, IOF fired artillery shells at the Ezbet Abed-Rabu eastern Jabaliya, destroying the house and killing three child sisters. They were identified as:

  • Three-year-old Amal Khalid Abed-Rabu;
  • Four-year-old Samar Khalid Abed-Rabu; and
  • Seven-year-old Suad Khalid Abed-Rabu.

At the same time, IOF troops opened fire at an ambulance in the same neighborhood when its crew was trying to collect the body of a civilian, 42-year-old Samir Rashid Mohammed. Yesterday, medical sources announced the death of six people who had been injured previously in north Gaza, including two children, an old man and two women. They were identified as:

  • 15-year-old Adham Ismail Matar;
  • 16-year-old Islam Abdul-Dayim;
  • 20-year-old Ahmad Ijneed;
  • 21-year-old Ibrahim Salman;
  • 23-year-old Wafa Abu Jarad; and
  • 87-year-old Mohammed Abu Rukba.

Moreover, medical teams found the dead bodies of two men and a woman:

  • 31-year-old Wojoud Rajab Abu Darabee;
  • 55-year-old Mohammed Ali al-Sultan; and
  • Musbah Ayioub, whose age has not yet been verified.

At approximately 4:40pm on Wednesday, Israeli aircrafts raided the house of Jasser al-Batsh in Jabaliya, destroying it and injuring one person.

At approximately 6pm yesterday, also Wednesday, Israeli aircrafts fired a missile at a civilian car, killing five people: the driver, his three children and a relative. They were identified as:

  • 44-year-old Khalid Ismail al-Kahlout;
  • 15-year-old Mohammed Khalid al-Kahlout;
  • 12-year-old Habeeb Khalid Al-Kahlout (who was handicapped);
  • 10-year-old Tawfeek Khalid al-Kahlout; and
  • 20-year-old Hassan Khalil al-Kahlout.

Two other passersby were injured in this attack. Al Mezan’s investigations indicated that al-Kahlout was going to buy bread for his family.

Later, at approximately 7:40pm on Wednesday, IOF stopped an ambulance that belongs to al-Falah Charity in Ezbet Abed-Rabu and confiscated it. IOF also shelled the Sheikh Zayid apartment compound at 9:15pm, causing damage to numerous apartments and forced its residents to evacuate their homes.

At approximately 8pm yesterday, also Wednesday, Israeli aircrafts fired missiles at the house of 42-year-old Taysir Mohammed Zomlut, killing him, his 10-year-old son, Mohammed, and his mother, 88-year-old Khadeeja. The house was destroyed completely and two neighboring houses were damaged.

At approximately 12:05am today, Thursday 8 January 2009, Israeli aircraft raided the house of Mahmoud Rwishid, which is located in the middle of Jabaliya refugee camp. The house and five neighboring houses were completely destroyed. Israeli aircraft also raided six houses in Jabaliya and Beit Lahia between 12:05am and 12:50pm today. As a result, the six houses and 11 other houses were completely destroyed. Another 26 houses were severely damaged. IOF also raided the Anan Mosque in Jabalia and destroyed it. Eighteen people were injured as a result of the bombardment of these houses.

At approximately 9:30pm today, the IOF fired missiles into a crowd near the Kamal Udwan Hospital in Beit Lahia, killing three passersby and injuring two. The victims were identified as:

  • 25-year-old Mohammed al-Hindi;
  • 24-year-old Anwar Jaber Abu Salem; and
  • 27-year-old Abdul-Nasser Odeh.

At 10:50am today, medical teams found the body of 30-year-old Bassam Shaban Kouta in the vicinity of Erez Crossing. The victim was a driver at UNRWA [the United Nations agency for Palestine refugees] and was killed from IOF fire as he was on his way to lift humanitarian aid. Two hours later, IOF artillery shelling of the Sheikh Zayid apartment compound killed a five-year-old girl, Basma Yasser al-Jilawi.

2. Gaza City District:

Al-Shifa Hospital has continued to receive the bodies of people killed as a result of the ongoing Israeli attacks. Some of those were collected a few days after they were killed. Others died of their injuries some days later.

At approximately 1:20pm, on 7 January 2009, the bodies of 12-year-old Radwan Mohammed Ashour and his 11-year-old brother Abdul-Rahman were admitted at al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City. The two brothers were killed while in their house at approximately 8am on the same day as a result of IOF artillery shelling close to their house in al-Zeitoun neighborhood, in eastern Gaza City. The bodies of following people were also received at the hospital on the same day:

  • 21-year-old Ahmed Hasan Abu Zour;
  • 20-year-old Ahmed Salah Mousa;
  • 20-year-old Azmi Diab;
  • 21-year-old Majed Sobhi Moshtaha; and
  • 20-year-old Alaa Masoud Arafat.

At approximately 11:50pm, on the same day, medical sources at al-Quds Hospital announced the death of 16-year-old Mohammed Samir Hajji as a result of injuries he had sustained on 12 December 2008.

In the late hours of the same day, IOF aircraft raided and completely destroyed the al-Taqwa and the al-Nour al-Mohammadi mosques which are located in Sheikh Radwan neighborhood in Gaza City.

At approximately 2am, on 8 January 2008, IOF aircrafts bombarded the two-story house of 52-year-old Mohmoud Mohammed al-Huwwari, in al-Zeitoun neighborhood. The attack destroyed the targeted house and the house of Khader Rajab completely, and caused damages to four nearby houses. The attack also killed 22-year-old Omar Khader Rajab, and injured six others.

At approximately 2am, on the same day, the corpse of a 50-year-old woman, Fadwa Khalil Kheil, was admitted at al-Shifa Hospital. She was blown to pieces as a result of the IOF artillery shelling that targeted her house in al-Zeitoun neighborhood on 5 January 2009.

At approximately 3am that same day, medial sources at al-Shifa Hospital announced the death of seven-year-old Ahmed Jaber Huweij from wounds he had sustained on 27 December 2008 following IOF shelling that targeted the house of Hmeid’s family. Jaber’s father and two of his brothers were killed in the same attack.

At the same time, the body of 42-year-old Hatem Waleed Ghazal was also admitted at al-Shifa hospital. He was killed by a live bullet fired by IOF sniper in Yafa Street in al-Tuffah neighborhood, in eastern Gaza City.

At approximately 6am, on the same day, medical sources at al-Quds Hospital announced the death of a 30-year-old woman, Rawia Rajan Awad, as a result of injuries she had sustained earlier. Moreover, medical sources announced the death of 14-year-old Aed Ammar Kheira from wounds he had sustained on 4 January 2009.

3. Middle Gaza District: At approximately 7pm yesterday Wednesday, 7 January 2009, Israeli aircraft raided a blacksmith workshop owned by Mahmoud al-Taweel in the al-Bureij refugee camp. The workshop was completely destroyed.

Thirty minutes later, Israeli aircraft raided a house and a blacksmith workshop owned by Abdul-Hamid Fadil, also in al-Bureij refugee camp. The four-story house, the workshop and three neighboring houses were completely destroyed. Another 10 houses were damaged. Moreover, two men were killed in the attack. They were identified as:

  • 27-year-old Hammam Mohammed Issa; and
  • 22-year-old Ahmed Yousef Hussein.

At approximately 8pm on Wednesday, Israeli aircraft raided the house of Abdul-Raziq al-Nadi. Three heavy missiles destroyed the two-story house, which was inhabited by 20 people.

At approximately 8:55pm Wednesday, Israeli aircrafts raided the police station and the neighboring municipality building, destroying them and three other houses completely. Several other houses and an non-governmental organization office were also damaged.

4. Khan Younis District:

At approximately 11pm, on 7 January 2009, IOF aircrafts targeted a group of youths who were near al-Tatouri factory in al-Amal neighborhood, west of Khan Younis, killing 22-year-old Salem Hmeid Abu Mousa, 22-year-old Hassan Rateb Saman and injuring other bystanders.

At approximately 11:50pm, on the same day, IOF aircrafts bombarded the police station which is located on Salah al-Din Street in Maan area, east of Khan Younis, destroying it completely. At approximately 4:30pm that same day, IOF aircraft bombarded the police station in Bani Suhaila destroying it completely.
At approximately 1:15, on 8 January 2009, the IOF penetrated the vicinity of Abu al-Alaa al-Maary School in northeast al-Qarara town, northeast of Khan Younis, and opened gunfire and missiles at agricultural and open areas. The shelling resulted in the killing of 60-year-old Atwi Awwad Abu Nazeef.

At approximately 12pm, on the same day, IOF aircraft raided a group of women, killing 22-year-old Maather Mohammed Hmeid, and 32-year-old Faten Sneid. The death toll in Khan Younis district between 1pm yesterday and 1pm today reached has reached five, including two women.

5. Rafah District:

At approximately 9:50pm, on 7 January 2009, IOF aircraft fired two missiles at the three-story house of Ahmed Mohsen Hasan Fuju, which is located in al-Jnina neighborhood in Rafah, destroying it completely. The house was inhabited by four families, a total of 20 persons. The attack also destroyed totally the adjacent two-story house of Hmeid Mohammed Mohsen Fuju, which was inhabited by three families, a total of 11 persons.

The number of people killed in Rafah since the beginning of the Israeli operation till 7 January 2009 has reached 39, including 13 children and a woman, while the number of people injured has reached 320, including 203 men, 61 women, and 65 children.

Al Mezan Center for Human Rights condemns the actions of the IOF in Gaza, many of which represent war crimes and crimes against humanity by intentionally targeting civilians by killing and starvation. The Center also deplores the IOF’s targeting of civilians during a unilaterally declared ceasefire yesterday.
Al Mezan strongly condemns IOF’s escalation of its use of excessive force, which the IOF has been allowed to employ against the Gaza Strip since 27 December 2008, under continuous failure to take urgent action by the international community. The Center is particularly outraged by the inaction of the UN Security Council, which has allowed for the killing of hundreds of civilians and for a severe humanitarian crisis in defiance of the rules of international law and the UN Charter. The Council is called on to set aside political differences and provide immediate protection for uninvolved civilians.

Al Mezan also calls on the UN Secretary-General to show clearer commitment to the UN purposes and values and intensify the efforts to ensure the protection of civilians in the Gaza Strip from the Israeli disproportionate, indiscriminate attacks, which have also targeted UN personnel and property.

Al Mezan Center calls the Human Rights Council to initiate prompt, objective investigation in the violations of human rights and international humanitarian law by the Israeli army since the start of the current operations in Gaza. The Council is also called to take all the necessary measures to ensure the due respect and protection of human rights, and to set up mechanisms to pursue and bring to justice all those who have ordered or committed gross human rights violations and war crimes.

Under continued occurrence of grave breaches of international humanitarian law, Al Mezan Center calls on the UN General Assembly to request the convention of the conference of the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Times of War, of 1949. States Parties to the Convention are under an obligation, under Common Article 1, to ensure respect of the Convection. Under the ongoing military campaign, acting in accordance with this obligation is extremely urgent.

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