At dawn today the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) started a large incursion in the north Gaza town of Beit Hanoun. So far, six Palestinians have been killed and 20 wounded. The incursion is still underway and Al Mezan has detected serious violations by IOF.
According to Al Mezan’s investigations, at approximately 1am Wednesday 1 November 2006, IOF special forces sneaked into the town and took positions on the roofs of several houses in As Sikka neighborhood. Other troops took positions in other neighborhoods under the cover of helicopters. The Centre’s fieldworker in the area reported that IOF had besieged the town completely by the morning. Lines of tanks have also moved into the town and occupied it under heavy firing.
Six Palestinians have been killed; mostly by snipers’ fire from rooftops: Fayiz Az Zwidy, aged 25; Ahmed Saadat, aged 23; Hussam Abu Harbid, aged 27; Tariq Nasser, aged 24; Muhammad Al Masri, aged 22; and Ahmed Udwan, aged 21. In addition, 20 people have been wounded. Reports have stated that ambulances and medical teams were prevented from accessing the town by the IOF, which in turn prevented the injured from reaching hospitals and added to the number of casualties.
This new escalation comes one day after the Israeli cabinet’s approval of a decision to expand IOF’s actions in the Gaza Strip and carry out military operations. This incursion, according to the Israeli statements, is only part of the expected military actions in Gaza. Al Mezan has warned about the impact on human life and property should such large operations be executed.
Al Mezan Centre is gravely concerned by the continued and escalated IOF aggression against civilians and their property in the OPT. The Centre emphasizes that IOF have committed grave breaches to international humanitarian law, especially the besieging of towns, restriction of medical teams’ movement and the use of excessive, lethal force in civilian areas without necessity.
As such, Al Mezan calls for a prompt response from the international community condemning the violations of human rights in the Gaza Strip and calling for an immediate halt of these violations. The international community, particularly the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention, is asked to intervene quickly to ensure the application of the Convention and the protection of human rights in OPT.