Press release, Al Mezan, 4 January 2009
A mosque destroyed in an Israeli missile strike in Jabaliya refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip, 2 January 2009. (Hatem Omar/MaanImages)
1pm Gaza Time (+2hrs GMT)
The Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) has escalated its aggression on the Gaza Strip on the ninth day of its military operations in the Gaza Strip. Yesterday, at approximately 7pm, it started a ground invasion into the northern parts of the Gaza Strip and the eastern suburbs of Gaza City under heavy bombardment from the air. Fifty-two people have been killed by the IOF throughout the Gaza Strip since yesterday evening (seven children and three women). Another 182 have been injured (26 children and 10 women). IOF has continued to show disregard to the rules of international law relevant to armed conflict, inflicting severe harm to civilian life and property.
According to the monitoring of Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, Israeli aircraft bombarded al-Makadma Mosque in Beit Lahia while dozens of people were praying in it last night. Fifteen people were killed and 25 others injured, as a result. Twenty minutes earlier, Israeli aircrafts raided the house of Saleh al-Ghoul in Beit Lahia, killing his 25-year-old son, Mahmoud and a relative, 40-year-old Akram Faris al-Ghoul. A group of neighbors headed to the house in an attempt to aid the family; however, Israeli planes fired a missile at their car, injuring six persons. At approximately 9:30pm yesterday, Israeli planes targeted a group of young men and children as they were protesting the invasion by burning tires, killing 12-year-old Ahmed Sameeh al-Kafarneh and injuring 10 others. Medical sources reported that the 10 have sustained critical wounds.
IOF also continued to target ambulance teams who attempt to collect the injured. At approximately 10:20am today, an Israeli plane fired a missile at an ambulance in the west of Beit Lahia, destroying it and injuring the three of its crew. Two of them sustained critical wounds.
Israeli aircrafts also launched a series of air raids at civilian targets in Gaza City, including a print-house, the al-Risala newspaper's office and the al-Karama Charity, which cares for the orphans whose parents have been killed by the IOF. Moreover, they bombarded, for the third time since the start of Operation Cast Lead, the Arafat Police Town in Gaza City.
Israeli ground forces invaded parts of the Gaza Strip last night and have fired artillery shells under continuous bombardment from the air. In Gaza City alone, 14 people have been killed; including at least 10 civilians (four children and three women included). Al Mezan has not yet been able to reach the invaded areas and check the damage of houses there; however, initial reports indicate that the IOF has fired artillery and missiles into homes.
In Central Gaza district, the IOF launched several air raids targeting houses and other targets, injuring nine people, including a seven-year-old child and an old man, both of whom critically. Israeli tanks expanded their invasion into the area by moving towards wadi Gaza village. Tank fire injured 12-year-old girl Manar Abu Hajjaj, whom the medical teams could not reach owing to the continuous shelling on the area.
In Rafah, south of the Gaza Strip, Israeli planes and artillery bombarded the areas near the eastern border. Fifteen-year-old Shareef al-Rmilat was killed from artillery fire in al-Shoka village. Ten other people were also injured. At 8:05am today, an Israeli air raid hit the house of Ahmad al-Sheikh, north of Rafah town, injuring him and his wife.
At 9:30am today, IOF fired a missile at a man and his sons while they were collecting wood for heating and cooking. Five people were killed in the attack. Most of the Gaza Strip has been blacked out as a result of the Israeli blockade, and people try to look for alternatives. The victims of this attack were identified as 43-year-old Abed Hasan Barbakh, and his three sons 16-year-old Mohammed Abed Barbakh, 10-year-old Yousef Abed Barbakh, 22-year-old Mahdi Abed Barbakh. Their cousin, 18-year-old Mousa Yousef Barbakh. IOF has also invaded the southeastern parts of Rafah and taken position in the Gaza International Airport.
In Khan Younis District, IOF's shelling of the eastern areas has continued since yesterday. At approximately 7:10am today, IOF drones fired a missile at Mohammed al-Heela, 22, and killed him immediately, in the al-Amal neighborhood in the city.
Israeli tanks have also opened fire continuously at the southern areas of Gaza City, cutting off the city from the districts in the center and south of the Gaza Strip. IOF have also shelled areas around the Sufa Crossing, east of Khan Younis.
Al Mezan Center for Human Rights expresses its strongest possible condemnation of the Israeli military operations in the Gaza Strip, which have caused, and continue to cause, unprecedented loss of civilian life and suffering for the 1.5 million people living in it. Al Mezan also expresses its outrage with the international community's failure to address the situation in Gaza, by bringing the Israeli military actions to an end and aiding civilians. Al Mezan is particularly concerned about the positions of the US who have blocked a resolution by the Security Council, rendering it unable to restore peace, and the EU, which has failed to take effective action. Therefore reiterates its calls upon the international community to take effective action to bring to an end these operations without delay.
Al Mezan calls upon:
- The United Nations Secretary General to condemn the Israeli disproportionate use of force and the targeting of civilians and civilian objects in defiance of peremptory rules of international law;
- The United Nations agencies to provide urgent humanitarian aid and safe shelters for Gazans who have been displaced and those living in threatened areas;
- The International Committee of the Red Cross to double its efforts to ensure humanitarian access for civilians and ensure tending to the urgent needs for medicines and water;
- The international community to condemn the grave breaches of international humanitarian law (IHL) and human rights by Israel in the Gaza Strip, and take concrete steps to bring them to an end;
- The Human Rights Council to call upon the UN General Assembly to request the convening in Switzerland of a conference of the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilians in Times of War, of 1949, to consider the breaches by Israel of its nonderogable obligations under the Convention in the course of its ongoing military actions in Gaza, and to consider the necessary measures to ensure respect of the rules set out in the Convention and its relevant protocols.
- Civil societies around the world to exert pressure on their governments so that they act in conformity with the relevant human rights and humanitarian obligations as prescribed in relevant international law.
- Failure to take any action despite the enormous amount of information about the consequences of Israel's conduct towards human life and well being in the Gaza Strip; including about the occurrence of grave breaches of IHL amounting to war crimes only encourages the aggravating of the situation.
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