Date: 04 January 2009
Time: 11:00 GMT
On the 9th Day of the Offensive on the Gaza Strip, Israel Practices State Terrorism;
The Number of Palestinians Killed Rises to 424, Mostly Civilians, Including 88 Children and 19 Women
Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) have continued their war on the Gaza Strip for the 9th consecutive day, causing more deaths and casualties among Palestinian civilians. IOF warplanes have launched more strikes against several civilian facilities in the context of their war on the Gaza Strip. On Saturday evening, 3 January 2009, IOF heavy military vehicles started to move into the Gaza Strip from several directions. Since the beginning of the ground operation, IOF have intensively shelled Palestinian residential area from the land, the sea and the air. They have partitioned the Gaza Strip into a number of sections isolated from one another. The northern Gaza Strip and Gaza City have been a scene of the most violent attacks. IOF military vehicles have continued to move from the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel towards Palestinian communities under cover of unprecedented artillery shelling, which endanger the lives of Palestinian civilians. Facts on the ground indicate that complete families have been killed or wounded by IOF.
In one of the horrible crimes committed by IOF in the past 24 hours, IOF warplanes bombarded a mosque in Jabalya town in the northern Gaza Strip, while Palestinian civilians were praying inside it. As a result, 15 civilians, including 4 children, were killed and 27 others were wounded. According to field information available to PCHR, ambulances and medical crews are facing extreme difficulties in attending the wounded, as they have been subjected to IOF shelling and gunfire, so there may a number of Palestinian who have been killed or wounded, but have not been evacuated to hospitals. Additionally, there are a number of Palestinians who have been killed or wounded at the time of this writing, but their numbers are not available at the moment.
PCHR has closely followed up the developments of the IOF offensive on the Gaza Strip. Developments in the past 24 hours have been:
Northern Gaza Strip
· At approximately 17:20 on Saturday, 3 January 2009, while dozens of Palestinian civilians were praying the Sunset Prayer, an IOF drone fired a missile at Martyr Ibrahim al-Maqadma Mosque near Kamal ‘Edwan Hospital in Jabalya town in the northern Gaza Strip. As a result, 12 Palestinian civilians, including 4 children, were killed and 30 others were wounded. Later, 3 of the wounded died of their wounds, so the number of deaths mounted to 15.
· At approximately 21:00 on the same day, IOF military vehicles started to move into the northern Gaza Strip from various directions. They seized control over the area under cover of artillery shelling and aerial bombardment. Crimes committed by IOF during the ground incursion into the Gaza Strip have been:
o At approximately 08:10 on Sunday, 4 January 2009, IOF fired an artillery shell that hit a house belonging to Rezeq Tantish in al-Nuzha Street in Beit Lahia town. Two of Tantish’s grandchildren who were on the roof of the house were killed: Hamza Zuhair Rezeq Tantish, 12; and Mahmoud Zaher Rezeq Tntish, 17.
o At approximately 09:30 on Sunday, an artillery shell hit a house belonging to Wadee’ Ayman ‘Omar, 40, in al-Nuzha Street in Beit Lahia town. ‘Omar was instantly killed.
o At approximately 10:00 on Sunday, IOF shelled a crowd of Palestinian civilians near Abu ‘Obaida Mosque in Beit Lahia town. A number of residents of the area and an ambulance of al-‘Awda Hospital rushed to the area to evacuate the wounded. At approximately 10:10, IOF shelled the area again. As a result, 9 Palestinian civilians, including a man and two of his sons, were killed and a number of others, including two paramedics, were wounded. The ambulance driver, Khaled Yousef Abu Sa’da, 43, stated to PCHR that at approximately 10:15 on Sunday, he was informed that some people were wounded near the western intersection in the west of Beit Lahia. He moved towards the area accompanied by paramedics ‘Arafa Hani ‘Abdul Dayem, 33, and ‘Alaa’ Ussama Sarhan, 26. When they arrived at the area, they carried a person who was seriously wounded. Abu Sa’da moved forward to evacuate another person, but an IOF tank fired a shell at them. The shell hit the ambulance. The ambulance driver and the two paramedic were seriously wounded.
· At approximately 21:00 on Saturday, 3 January 2009, IOF military vehicles moved into al-Zaytoun, al-Tuffah and al-Shoja’eya neighborhoods in the east of Gaza City, under cover of artillery shelling and aerial bombardment of residential areas and agricultural lands located near the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel. As a result of these attacks, 13 Palestinians, including 9 civilians, were killed. The victims include 3 children and 3 women who were killed while they were inside their houses. Additionally, 60 Palestinians, including 10 children and 3 women, were wounded; most of them were wounded while they were inside their houses. Buildings, houses and the infrastructure were heavily damaged.
· Other Attacks:
o At approximately 17:45 on Saturday, 3 January 2009, an IOF helicopter gunship bombarded a press belonging to ‘Abdul Nabi Sa’id al-Rantissi in al-Remal neighborhood in Gaza City. The press was destroyed and a nearby building was damaged.
o At approximately 18:00 on Saturday, IOF warplanes bombarded offices of al-Resala newspaper on the 5th floor of al-‘Ajrami apartment building in al-Nasser neighborhood in Gaza City. The offices were destroyed and a number of nearby buildings were damaged.
o At approximately 20:45 on Saturday, IOF warplanes bombarded a site of the Security and Protection Service near the presidential compound in the west of Gaza City. The site was destroyed and a number of nearby buildings were damaged.
o At approximately 21:15, IOF warplanes bombarded the 3-storey building of al-Karama Association for Children of Martyrs in al-Remal neighborhood in Gaza City. The building was destroyed and a number of nearby buildings were damaged.
o At approximately 01:00 on Sunday, 4 January 2009, IOF warplanes bombarded Arafat police compound, which had been repeatedly bombarded.
o At approximately 04:20 on Sunday, IOF warplanes bombarded fuel tanks on a space area behind the building pf al-Aqsa Radio in al-Nasser neighborhood in Gaza City. Fire broke out extensively and two nearby houses belonging to Hamdi Talab al-Khudari and Fakhri ‘Abdul Qader Jaber were completely burnt. A number of other houses were damaged.
o At approximately 11:00 on Sunday, IOF warplanes bombarded a crowd of Palestinian civilians near the garage of the Municipality of Gaza in al-Yarmouk area. As a result, 17-year-old Ahmed Khader Diab Subaih was killed and his uncle who was accompanying him was seriously wounded.
Central Gaza Strip
· At approximately 19:00 on Saturday, 3 January 2009, an IOF warplane fired a missile at 3 young men who were near a house in the Trans Street in al-Mughraqa village, south of Gaza City. The three young men were moderately wounded.
· At approximately 22:00 on Saturday, IOF tanks fired two shells at a house belonging to Hussein ‘Ouda al-‘Aaidi in Juhor al-Dik area, south of Gaza City. The house was heavily damaged and two women and 3 children were wounded.
· At approximately 10:00 on Sunday, 4 January 2009, IOF troops positioned at the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel, east of Deir al-Balah town, opened fire at Palestinian houses and agricultural areas. As a result, 7-year-old Anas ‘Aaref Baraka was seriously wounded by a gunshot to the head. Additionally, ‘Eid ‘Abada Abu Rabi’a, 65, from al-Mughraqa village, was evacuated to al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir al-Balah as he was seriously wounded by a gunshot to the chest.
· At approximately 12:40 on Saturday, 3 January 2009, an IOF warplane fired a missile at a civilian car, in which two Palestinians were traveling, in al-Sikka Street in al-Satar al-Ghabri area in Khan Yunis. As a result, one of the passengers was killed, while the other one was able to jump out of the car and flee. However, the warplane fired another missile at him when he was nearly 100 meters away from the car. He was also killed. The two victims were identified as members of the ‘Izziddin al-Qassam Brigades of Hamas: Shadi ‘Aayesh al-Shourbaji, 28; and Mahmoud Ma’rouf, 25.
· At approximately 14:00 on Saturday, IOF warplanes bombarded a space area near Sofa road, southeast of Khan Yunis. No casualties were reported.
· At approximately 14:10 on Saturday, IOF warplanes bombarded a space area in Abu Tu’aima quarter and a greenhouse in Khuza’a village, east of Khan Yunis. No casualties were reported.
· At approximately 15:00, IOF warplanes bombarded a civil defense station in the east of Khan Yunis.
· At approximately 07:30 on Sunday, 4 January 2009, an IOF warplane fired a missile at two members of the ‘Izziddin al-Qassam Brigades of Hamas who were walking in al-Amal neighborhood in the west of Khan Yunis. One of them was killed and the other one was wounded.
· At approximately 08:15 on Sunday, IOF warplanes bombarded a space area in the east of Khan Yunis. No casualties were reported.
· At approximately 14:00 on Saturday, 3 January 2009, IOF warplanes bombarded agricultural areas near Salah al-Din Street, east of Rafah. No casualties were reported.
· At approximately 15:25 on Saturday, IOF warplanes bombarded agricultural areas in al-Shouka village, east of Rafah. No casualties were reported.
· At approximately 15:55 on Saturday, IOF warplanes bombarded tunnels along the Egyptian-Palestinian border near Rafah International Crossing Point. The bombardment continued until 18:50. No casualties were reported.
· At approximately 20:00 on Saturday, IOF military vehicles moved into the east of Rafah under cover of intensive artillery shelling that targeted houses and agricultural lands in the area. As a result, 17-year-old Shareef ‘Abdul Mo’ti Ermailat was killed and another 7 civilians were wounded while they were inside their houses. According to Palestinian medical sources, the victims were hit by Flechette shells. As a result of the IOF shelling that continued over night and on Sunday morning, another 18 Palestinian civilians, including 5 children and a woman, were wounded.
· At approximately 09:30 on Sunday, 4 January 2009, IOF warplanes fired a missile at a number of Palestinian civilians who were in front of their houses in al-Shouka village, east of Rafah. As a result, 5 civilians, including a man and 3 of his sons, were killed:
1. ‘Abed Hassab Barbakh, 43;
2. Mahdi ‘Abed Hassan Barbakh, 22;
3. Mohammed ‘Abed Hassan Brbakh, 16;
4. Yousef ‘Abed Hassan Barbakh, 10; and
5. Mousa Yousef Barbakh, 18.
In light of crimes committed by IOF against the Palestinian civilian population and property in the Gaza Strip, PCHR:
1) Condemns these crimes, which are part of a series of continuous crimes committed by IOF in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) with total disregard for the lives of Palestinian civilians, considering them a form of collective punishment against the Palestinian civilian population in violation of article 33 of the Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War.
2) Holds Israel responsible for the lives of Palestinian civilians in all circumstances. Under the international law, the existence of armed resistance does not in any case justify the use of such excessive force disproportionately and indiscriminately.
3) Warns that the lives of Palestinian civilians are endangered in light of threats vowed by Israeli political and military officials to expand military operations against the population of the Gaza Strip.
4) Calls upon the international community to immediately intervene to stop such crimes, and calls upon the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Convention, Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, to fulfill their obligation under article 1 of the Convention to ensure respect for the Convention in all circumstances, as well as their obligation under article 146 to search for and prosecute those who are responsible for perpetrating grave breaches of the Convention, as such breaches constitute war crimes according to article 147 of the Convention and the Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and Relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts (Protocol I).