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Press Release

 

Foreign solidarity group forces open two Israeli military roadblocks

 

 

Ref: 50/2002

Date: 2 April 2002

 

On 1 April, members of an international civil protection delegation visiting the Gaza strip in solidarity with the Palestinian people succeeded in forcing Israeli occupation forces to reopen two Israeli military checkpoints that had been closed for five days. The delegation, comprised of approximately 20 French and Swiss nationals, accompanied by PCHR staff, demonstrated at Netzarim junction, near Gaza city and Abu Houli checkpoint, near Khan Yunis, both while traveling to the south of the Gaza strip and upon their return to Gaza city.

 

The protesters confronted Israeli occupying forces at both checkpoints with slogans and banners. At Netzarim junction, Israeli soldiers fired live ammunition in the air without warning and threatened to arrest the protesters. At Abu Houli checkpoint, soldiers repeatedly threatened to shoot the delegation. After tense exchanges, the Israeli forces agreed to open the checkpoints. The delegation crossed the roadblocks after Palestinian traffic, including civilians who been waiting at checkpoints for five days, managed to pass through.

 

The delegation also visited al-Tuffah checkpoint in Khan Yunis, in the southern Gaza strip, an area of mass house demolition and indiscriminate shelling by Israeli occupying forces. They then moved to the Rafah refugee camp on the border with Egypt, where they visited demolished houses in Block “O” area, where a Palestinian child had been killed one hour earlier by Israeli snipers. The delegation met with owners of houses demolished by the Israeli army.

 

This morning, the delegation met with mothers and wives of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. They also inspected the office of Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, partially destroyed by Israeli warplanes, and met with Tayeb Abdul Rahim, chef de cabinet of the president’s office. The delegation also visited other PNA civil sites destroyed by Israeli bombardment in Gaza city.

 

On the same day, the delegation met with representatives of nationalistic and Islamic movements, who briefed them on their standpoint on developments in the region

 

The delegation initiated their visit to the Gaza Strip on Sunday, 31 March, with a tour of Beit Lahia village and Jabalya refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip, accompanied by PCHR staff. At PCHR’s office, the delegation met with Palestinian civil society leaders, who briefed them on Israeli practices and violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

 

The delegation will depart on Wednesday, 3 April. According the program of the visit, prepared by PCHR, the delegation will meet with some Palestinian public and women activists, as well as representatives of the fishermen’s union, who are subjected to continuous Israeli violations. They will also visit the offices of the ICRC and Gaza Community and Mental Health Programme.