Massacres in Gaza Continue: 284 Killed; Including 32
Children, and 755 Injured
Gaza’s Service Systems Paralyzed under Severe Lack of Medicine, Food and Power
[The following press release was issued on December 29, 2008, by the Palestine Right of Return Coalition (al-Awda). At the time of posting, the New York Times is reporting that the Arab death toll has in fact exceeded 350. Labor Standard joins al-Awda and all other fighters for peace and justice in demanding the immediate, total, and unconditional end of the Israeli air strikes on Gaza and the immediate cessation of U.S. financial and military support to the state of Israel.]
The Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) has continued its airstrikes on Gaza. For the third day in a raw, Israeli aircrafts, helicopter gunships and surveillance drones have continued to roam Gaza’s skies, spreading death around the impoverished coastal strip. Attacks targeted dozens of houses and other civilian premises, such as mosques and education facilities that are located in urban areas causing dozens of civilian casualties. These attacks continue as the international community failure to uphold applicable international law seems to encourage more Israeli attacks, despite their clear disregard of civilian life and international law.
Al Mezan Center’s monitoring indicates that at least 30 Palestinians (12 children and one woman) have been killed since yesterday, whereas the number of people who have been injured reached 158 (25 children and 14 women). 38 houses were targeted directly by the IOF and approximately 3,000 homes have sustained varied degrees of damage. Additionally, the IOF airstrikes targeted and destroyed 4 mosques, 34 workshops, 16 security installations, 3 CBO offices, 3 fishing boats and 6 vehicles. This is besides the bombardment of a building in the Islamic University. The UNSCO office and a building hosting international UN staff and a number of their cars were also damaged.
As IOF’s attacks continue, more casualties and damages are expected to occur in Gaza.
Two of the most tragic events took place in Jabalia refugee camp, north of the Gaza Strip, and Rafah refugee camp in the south of the Strip. In Jabalia refugee camp an Israeli airstrike targeted the Emad Aqel Mosque in Block 4 of the camp. The Mosque was destroyed. But so were tens of the refugee camp’s humble homes, which asbestos roofs and weak walls fell down. Two homes adjacent to the Mosque were completely destroyed, one of which on their inhabitants, killing five girl children and injuring six, including an infant, a toddler and two girl children as well as their parents. Al Mezan’s field worker reported that the victims were identified as:
· 4-year-old Jawahir Anwar Ba’lousha,
· 8-year-old Dina Anwar Ba’lousha,
· 12-year-old Sahar Anwar Ba’lousha,
· 14-year-old Ikram Anwar Ba’lousha,
· 17-year-old Tahrir Anwar Ba’lousha.
Those who were injured are:
· Two-week-old Bara’ Anwar Ba’lousha,
· 2-year-old Mohammed Anwar Ba’lousha,
· 11-year-old Samah Anwar Ba’lousha,
· 16-year-old Iman Anwar Ba’lousha,
The parents of the children were also injured in this attack, which destroyed tens of homes and caused various injuries to another 24 civilians.
In the southern Gaza camp of Rafah, Israeli aircraft destroyed tens of homes in a series of airstrikes. The bombardment of the Al-Attar family and the Al-Absi family were particularly severe. According to Al Mezan’s field investigations, at approximately 1am today, 29 December 2008, Israeli aircrafts launched two airstrikes which simultaneously hit the houses of Al-Attar family and the Al-Absi family in the camp. The latter house was completely destroyed and many of its inhabitants were buried under its rubble. Three of the family’s children were killed and five other persons were injured. Medical sources in Rafah reported to Al Mezan that the children’s mother sustained serious wounds. Those who were killed in this house were identified as:
· 3-year-old Sedki Ziad Al-Absi,
· 12-year-old Ahmad Ziad Al-Absi,
· 14-year-old Mohammed Ziad Al-Absi.
Three other people from Al-Kurd family, who reside a neighboring house, were also injured in this attack, which caused damage to another four houses.
Aircrafts also bombarded and destroyed the Al-Attars house in Rafah. Four other neighboring homes were severely damaged and four people residing an adjacent home were injured, including 12-year-old Mahmoud Abu Hashim. The Al-Attar family had evacuated their house shortly before the shelling.
IOF’s airstrikes also targeted civilian premises in Rafah, including the buildings of Rafah Municipality and Governorate, and metal workshops, a medicine stores, and police stations.
The IOF also intensified its attacks on the borderline between the Gaza Strip and Egypt, forcing thousands of civilians to evacuate their homes starting approximately 40 minutes after midnight today. Families sheltered in UNRWA schools, which are not equipped to receive refugees, especially in the cold winters.
In Gaza City, IOF’s attacks have continued to target civilian premises. One attack targeted a two-story house owned by the Kishku family in Az-Zeytoun neighborhood in the city, at approximately 7pm yesterday. Israeli aircrafts hit the house with missiles while its 13 inhabitants were inside it, killing one woman and a girl child and injuring another six. Those who were killed were:
· 8-year-old Ibtihal Abdullah Kishku,
· 22-year-old Maisa Muneer Kishku.
At approximately 1:20pm yesterday, 28 December 2008, Israeli aircrafts fired missiles into two uninhabited apartments in the Al Azhar and the Education apartment compounds in Tel Al Hawa area in Gaza City. Numerous apartments were damaged. Later at night, Israeli aircrafts fired five heavy missiles at a building hosting classrooms and the labs of the Science and Engineering colleges at the Islamic University in Gaza City. The building was completely destroyed and other buildings at the university were damaged.
Al Mezan’s field workers reported that the IOF launched numerous attacks on police and security buildings in Gaza City, including the presidential guesthouse in Ansar security compound. Israeli aircrafts and naval vessels took part in these attacks, which also struck the fishermen’s haven and destroyed three fishing boats.
Also in Gaza City, at approximately 2:30am today 29 December 2008, Israeli helicopter gunships fired missiles at the house of Ala’ I’kilan in the Beach refugee camp, destroying it and causing damages to tens of houses in the camp.
In Khan Younis, south of the Gaza Strip, Israeli aircrafts bombarded various targets. At approximately 9:15pm on 28 December 2008 fired a missile into a crowd of people in Al Qarara town, east to Khan Younis, killing 22-year-old Ahmad Fayyad and moderately injuring another man.
At 10:20pm on the same day IOF bombarded the Ezadin Al Qassam Mosque in the town of Abassan, east to Khan Younis, destroying the mosque and causing severe damage to many houses around it. About an hour later, Israeli aircrafts bombarded the Abu T’emeh family’s house in Bani Suheial town, also east to Khan Younis. The house was destroyed and many other houses damaged.
In the Middle Gaza district, IOF fired missiles at an empty car in the An-Nuseirat refugee camp. Three bystanders were killed, including a child. They were identified as:
· 15-year-old Diya Abu Khubizeh,
· 20-year-old Mohammed Abu Khubizeh,
· 21-year-old Younis Abu Khubizeh.
At approximately 11:30pm on Sunday 28 December 2008, Israeli aircrafts bombarded the house of Talal Hassan Issa in the Al-Bureij refugee camp. The house was completely destroyed and tens of other houses were damaged. However, no casualties were reported. Eyewitnesses reported to Al Mezan that the inhabitants had evacuated following a telephone call informing them that their house would be attacked.
This Israeli bloody escalation comes while the tight siege of Gaza which has exacerbated the humanitarian crisis for Gaza’s 1.5 million people, who have had to live under severe shortages of food, water, medicine and power. These conditions impact seriously on the services sectors, especially as some of their facilities are being bombarded.
According to the monitoring of Al Mezan Center for Human Rights there is evidence that the IOF has perpetrated grave breaches of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) in Gaza during the past few days. Many of the IOF’s conducts qualify as war crimes and/or crimes against humanity. The Israeli aggression also represents a multiple violation of human rights standards.
It has been observed that the IOF target civilian premises directly and wantonly, while showing blatant disregard to civilian life and property. Israel’s attempts to prescribe its recent actions as self-defence against Hamas and rocket launchers is distorted and misleading. When a state chooses to resort to the use of force, it is bound by rules that prevent it from the abuse of this force, for its actions must observe the basic principles of IHL and human rights, both of which absolutely prohibit the disproportionate use of force and place an obligation on it to distinguish between military and civilian targets. In pursuing political gains in Gaza, Israel must show respect for human rights.
Therefore, and as the international community continuous failure to uphold its own legal and moral obligations, by turning a blind eye to the recent developments in Gaza and refraining from taking any effective actions to restrain Israel’s violations or providing aid and protection for innocent civilians, Al Mezan calls for an urgent convention of the 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 continuous, and scandalous, disregard of its obligations under the Convention and taking the necessary measures to ensure respect of its rules with regard to the Israeli action in Gaza.
Al Mezan Center, while welcomes the worldwide popular reactions in solidarity with the Gaza Strip, calls for more pressure by civil societies on their governments to ensure that they take actions in compliance with their international obligations, which require them to act to stop and punish war crimes.